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Italy's Colonial Futures: Colonial Inertia and Postcolonial Capital in Asmara

Abstract

The core of Asmara, Italy’s former colonial capital in Eritrea, is widely known as a unique repository of 1930s Italian architecture. In addition, its Italian food and other traces of the colonial era lend it the semblance, to foreign eyes, of a still-colonial city. This article describes this apparent colonial inertia with respect to Eritrean citizens’ and government’s interests in sustaining the illusion, and argues that they use their past as Italian colonial subjects – specifically, their postcolonial cultural capital - to fortify their sense of separateness from Ethiopians, and celebrate their independence from their African neighbor.

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