ABSTRACT

The popularity of resettlement schemes in Europe should be understood against the backdrop of real and perceived problems faced by interwar governments, from the social degeneration observed in cities and the abandonment of the countryside to mass unemployment and food insecurity. This chapter explores what made internal colonization such a popular and widespread transnational practice in interwar years. By examining the rationales that underpinned these projects in Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands, countries with strongly different political conditions, the chapter shows that internal colonization was seen as an integrative answer to social and economic problems that regimes of different political shades were eager to solve. The ideas and practices of internal colonization reflect the dominant features of rural governance: a strong belief in the malleability of society through planning and science; the increased role of the state; the engagement of experts, both in policy making and its implementation; and the use of population policies as a political tool.