Abstract of Papalia, G., “Imaginary Colonies: Fascist Views of Australia in Italian Diplomatic correspondence 1922-1940″.
This article looks at the unique perspective regarding Australia’s society afforded by Italian diplomatic reports during the 1920s and 30s. The ideological basis informing these reports is placed in its historical context and related to the particular place Australia occupied in Italian diplomatic discourse.
The picture that emerges is one of an underdeveloped Arcadia, inhabited by Britishers unwitting and undeserving of their bounty compared to the virtuous Italian immigrant. However, the similarities are often greater than the differences as the colonial discourse deployed by the Italian diplomats is substantially the same as the one extant in Australia at the time, particularly with regard to the Aboriginal inhabitants of the country. In addition, the Fascist ideology itself attracted favourable attention from politically conservative opinion including one of Australia’s most significant future prime ministers.
Finally, in geo-political terms, Italian diplomatic analysis proved to be more prescient and clear eyed than the conventional wisdom dominating public and media opinion in Australia at the time, particularly in regard to the real significance and value of the ‘special relationship’ between Australia and Great Britain.