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“War of Waves”. European Radio Propaganda in the Arab World: the Experience of Radio Bari (1934-43)


This project deals with the radio propaganda that Italy, Great Britain, France and Germany carried out in the Arab world between the mid-1930s and the early 1940s. In particular, it focuses on Radio Bari (1934-43), the first radio station to broadcast in Arabic with the purpose of courting the Arabs and challenging the French and British colonial power.
This topic has attracted scholarly interest but as of yet has not been addressed thoroughly. My research is the first one to tackle this issue in its entirety, with the aim of shedding light on such a neglected page of history.
My project has three main objectives. (I) Reconstructing the main elements of Radio Bari—its structure, its programs, and its main actors—according to two theoretical and historiographical frameworks: the use that the Fascist totalitarian regime made of the instruments of modern propaganda in order to exert its control over the population; the Fascist foreign policy’s employment of a tool of “soft power” aimed at transforming the Mediterranean sea into a mare nostrum and expanding the Italian presence in the Arab world. (II) Exploring Radio Bari as a cultural and transnational experience by examining the Orientalist and anti-Semitic messages in its programs, and by enquiring into what extent it might be considered an example of transnational networking between Europe and the Arab world. (III) Investigating the two phases of the “war of waves”, the first one that took place in 1938-39 and the second one that was waged during WWII.
In terms of methodology, being as my research is at the crossroads of different disciplines—history of international relations, cultural history, colonial history, transnational history, history of media—I will employ an interdisciplinary approach. In terms of sources, in addition to existing literature, my research will be based on extensive unpublished documentation from Italian, Vatican, British, French, Moroccan, Israeli, Egyptian, and American archives.

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Via dei roccettini 9
50014 Fiesole

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Centro (IT) Toscana Firenze
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Serena Scarselli (Mrs.)
EU contribution
No data