ISSN: 2038-0925

8/ The Eighth Vibration. Asmara and Dek’emhare, Cities of Work, Cities of Leisure

di Gian Luca Podestà

Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea, N. 21, 1|2015

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ABSTRACT TESTO INTEGRALE L’AUTORE REFERENZE LICENZE

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"Cinema Impero" by David Stanley on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

“Cinema Impero” by David Stanley on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Abstract


Italiano

Nel 1934 Asmara aveva una popolazione di circa 3.500 italiani e 12.000 africani. Nel 1939 il numero degli Italiani era salito a 48.000, mentre la popolazione africana contava 36.000 abitanti. In soli cinque anni, la popolazione totale era aumentata di cinque volte e la proporzione tra italiani e indigeni si era invertita. Un fenomeno senza precedenti, determinato dall’importanza della città come base logistica per la guerra: Asmara era il centro finanziario del nuovo impero italiano, in cui tutte le grandi aziende italiane avevano aperto filiali, nonché la sede di centinaia di nuove imprese nate dopo la conquista dell’Etiopia. Come in qualsiasi altra città europea, di giorno la città pulsava grazie alle attività delle imprese, dei mercati e dei distretti italiani. Di notte, la vita si spostava nei luoghi di intrattenimento e di svago. Sale da ballo, ristoranti e bar aprivano dappertutto. Circoli per gli operai e altre associazioni sostenute dal governo locale e dal PNF, organizzavano il tempo libero dei coloni. Nei pressi dei centri strategici in cui si trovavano le basi dell’esercito nascevano nuovi agglomerati urbani, come ad esempio Dek’emhare e Nefasit, frequentati da militari, lavoratori e «nuovi ricchi» italiani che, come descritto da Indro Montanelli nel suo libro XX Battaglione Eritrea, vivevano uno stile di vita alto borghese, che andava contro l’ethos imperiale fascista, tradendo così l’ideale alla base della guerra africana.

Parole chiave: architettura funzionalista, organizzazione sociale, storia urbana, tempo libero, vita di città.

English

The case of Asmara was emblematic. In 1934 Asmara had a population of about 3,500 Italians and 12,000 Africans. In 1939 Italians had risen to 48,000 whilst Africans were 36,000. In just five years the total population had increased fivefold, whilst the proportion between Italians and indigenous people had been reversed. This was an unprecedented phenomenon, determined by the economic importance of the city as a logistic base for the war. Asmara became the financial hub of the new Italian empire, where all major Italian companies had opened branches, as well as the seat of hundreds of new business enterprises born after the conquest of Ethiopia. Social life in Asmara was pulsating just like that of any other European town. During the day the heart of the city throbbed with business, both in the street markets and in the new Italian districts, where the offices of trading and industrial companies could be found. At night, social life moved to the ever expanding number of entertainment and leisure facilities. New dancehalls, restaurants and bars were being opened everywhere. The working men’s clubs and numerous sports and recreational societies, supported by local government and by the PNF, organised the colonists’ free time. In Eritrea, near the strategic hubs where companies and the army had located their logistic bases, new urban agglomerates rose from scratch, such as Dek’emhare and Nefasit, with plenty of restaurants and clubs, patronised by military personnel, workers and by the Italian nouveaux riches who, as Indro Montanelli denounced in his book “XX Battaglione Eritrea” (20th Eritrean Battalion) lived a upper-class lifestyle, which went against the Fascist imperial ethos, thus betraying the ideal purpose of the African wars.

Keywords: city life, functionalist architecture, leisure, social organization, urban history.


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L’autore


Gian Luca Podestà is full Professor of Economic History at the University of Parma and Contract Professor of Economic History at Bocconi University. His research areas are Public Finance in the Modern Era; Economics, Employment, politics and Society in the Italian Colonies in the XIX and XX Centuries; the Italian Public Industry during the Second world War; the Italian Iron and Steel Industry after the War of Ethiopia.
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Per citare questo articolo


Podestà, Gian Luca, «The Eighth Vibration. Asmara and Dek’emhare, Cities of Work, Cities of Leisure», Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea, N. 21, 1|2015

URL: <http://www.studistorici.com/2015/03/29/podesta_numero_21/>

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Licenze


Creative Commons License«The Eighth Vibration. Asmara and Dek’emhare, Cities of Work, Cities of Leisure» by Gian Luca Podestà / Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione 2.5 Italia License.

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