The progress of the arts during the Fascist period – when Italian architects theorized colonial architecture and Italians built a great deal in the colonies – is easily recapitulated. The years between the early 1920s and the mid-1930s were characterized by relative artistic freedom, experimentation, and open debate. The period that followed was marked, instead, by increasing artistic and architectural uniformity, subservience to the government’s totalitarianism, and a dying-out of artistic debates. Similarly, the trajectory of Italian colonial architecture follows a simple timeline: prior to the 1920s – i.e. for the first decades of Italian colonial expansion – architecture played hardly any part in Italians’ views of the colonies. They did not discuss how they should represent themselves there through their buildings, or the worth of local architectures. In the second half of the 1920s, architects began to write about “colonial architecture” as a new object to be defined and to be shaped actively, in response to national and colonial agendas. By the first half of the 1930s, colonial architecture had a significant place in architectural journals, conferences, and exhibitions. But after the mid1930s – as with the other arts in the late Fascist period – debates on colonial architecture died down, and the practice of colonial architecture and city planning fell under a blanket of unquestioning uniformity. In Chapters 3 through 5,
I describe these three periods as the pre-architecturalist, the architecturalist, and the uniformalist.