Italian imperialism in the early twentieth century left behind a legacy that is seldom far below the surface in postcolonial Libya. The ability to trace a lineage of resistance conferred political legitimacy in the formation of a national identity. In Italy today the legacies of imperial expansion are less accessible but no less important. The decision to occupy Libya occurred at a pivotal moment in the development of Italian national identity in the decades after Italian unification. Debates over an Italian approach to expansion in Muslim North Africa served as an opportunity to define the nature of religious identity in the nation as Italy attempted to join the ranks of the European imperial powers.
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