Eileen Ryan

Italy, Libya, Imperialism, Colonialism, Fascism, Mediterranean

I received a PhD from the History Department at Columbia University in the summer of 2013 after a long history of focusing on religious studies that led me to pursue a MA from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a BA in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My dissertation was entitled “Italy and the Sanusiyya: Negotiating Authority in Colonial Libya, 1911-1931,” and it blended my interests by examining the relationship between Italian colonial officials and elite members of a Sufi Islamic tariqa or order in eastern Libya. Based on extensive research in Italian, Libyan, British, and French archives, my dissertation provides an innovative interpretation of the politics of resistance and collaboration in colonial Libya. Since completing the dissertation, my research has moved towards an examination of the introduction of the Fascist Party in the colonial setting. How did the rise of Mussolini reverberate in the Libyan territories? How did the colonies fit into the Fascist Party’s image of the Italian nation?

These questions are guiding the process of revising my dissertation for publication. The Libyan territories provided a liminal national space for experimentation with the relationship between fascism and violence. At Temple, I teach a variety of courses concerning the role of Europe in the wider world. I have taught courses on European history in the twentieth century, the history of modern Italy, and courses on the process of imperialism and decolonization. I am currently developing a course on the modern history of the Mediterranean as a single geographic zone. This course will bring together my expertise in Italian history and the history of North Africa, and it will force us to rethink geo-political and cultural boundaries. At a time of increased immigration from North Africa to the southern shores of Europe, it is important for us to rethink the Mediterranean as a cohesive region instead of a line of division.
Selected Publications

“Violence and the Politics of Prestige: The Fascist Turn in Colonial Libya”, Modern Italy (Upcoming)
“Italian Colonial Native Policy in Cyrenaica and the Specter of Pan-Islam” Annali della Fondazione Ugo La Malfa, September 2011