Italy’s current crisis of Mediterranean migration and detention has its roots in early twentieth century imperial ambitions. Empire’s Mobius Strip investigates how mobile populations were perceived to be major threats to Italian colonization, and how the state’s historical mechanisms of control have resurfaced, with greater force, in today’s refugee crisis.
What is at stake in Empire’s Mobius Strip is a deeper understanding of the forces driving those who move by choice and those who are moved. Stephanie Malia Hom focuses on Libya, considered Italy’s most valuable colony, both politically and economically. Often perceived as the least of the great powers, Italian imperialism has been framed as something of “colonialism lite.” But Italian colonizers carried out genocide between 1929–33, targeting nomadic Bedouin and marching almost 100,000 of them across the desert, incarcerating them in camps where more than half who entered died, simply because the Italians considered their way of life suspect. There are un