'Sketching' Colonialism: International Law Narratives in XX Century Italian Colonial Cartoons

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    This article explores the international law narratives ‘depicted’ in Italian colonial propaganda illustrations and cartoons. The aim is to identify (international) legal arguments crafted to ‘counter-resist’ objections against the Italian colonial enterprise. These arguments provided legitimacy and neutrality to the Italian colonial endeavour and normalized a certain understanding of the colonial space and its subjects. After setting out the historical background, the article engages in a brief methodological reflection on the analytical function of illustrations and cartoons. Thereafter, it applies the methodological framework to analyse ‘counter-resistance’ international law narratives in a selection of XIX and XX century images. The article concludes by reflecting on the performative role of law, its palatability to mass-consumption and the legacy of the legal construction of the colonial mission civilisatrice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)219-262
    Number of pages44
    JournalLawArt. Journal of Law, Art and History
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

    Research programs

    • SAI 2010-01 RRL


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