Liberal Italy, “Cultural Diplomacy”, Italian Schools Abroad

Author/s Matteo Pretelli
Publishing Year 2023 Issue 2023/1 Language Italian
Pages 26 P. 5-30 File size 256 KB
DOI 10.3280/MON2023-001001
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From the age of colonialism and nationalism, all major European countries competed for the promotion of their national languages in international politics. From the outbreak of World War I, European states centralized the management of their cultural diplomacies, namely the capacity to promote abroad national cul-ture at large. A medium-sized country, united only since 1861, Italy had limited international power, and was hardly able to make its national idiom a pivotal fo-reign policy instrument. Consequently, Italy’s cultural diplomacy focused on fo-stering the Italian language among the millions of migrants who left the country between the late 19th and early 20th century, all to maintain and preserve their “Ita-lian character”. In addition, the Italian language was taught in special schools in Italy’s colonies in Africa in order to train selected native children to serve Italian interests. The essay aims to reconstruct Italy’s cultural diplomacy in the Liberal Age (1861-1922), with a focus on the promotion of the Italian language. First, it analyses international cultural competition in Europe and the promotion of natio-nal languages on behalf of foreign and colonial policies. Second, it considers the role Italy assigned to Italian schools abroad and concentrates on the function of the Italian language taught in schools for natives in Italy’s colonies. Finally, the essay investigates the role of Italian textbooks in educating both migrant children and young natives instructed in Italian schools abroad.

Keywords: Cultural diplomacy, Italian language, Italians abroad, Italian colonies, Liberal Ita-ly, schools

Matteo Pretelli, L’Italia liberale, la “diplomazia culturale”, le scuole italiane all’estero in "MONDO CONTEMPORANEO" 1/2023, pp 5-30, DOI: 10.3280/MON2023-001001