Alberto Basciani

University Roma Tre, Department of Political Science

A Late Offensive. Italian Cultural Action in Belgrade in the Last Phase of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1937-1941)

Abstract: After the signing of the so-called Ciano-Stojadinovic Pact (March 1937), Italian-Yugoslav relations suddenly improved. The turnaround in bilateral relations between the two countries (destined, however, to remain ephemeral) was clearly visible in the field of cultural relations. This essay aims to show how, after 1937, the Italian authorities tried to promote Italian culture and language in a big style in the capital of the Kingdom, Belgrade, in an attempt to counteract the supremacy enjoyed up to then by the cultural action of other countries such as France, Germany, etc., in order to promote the Italian language and culture. The fascination with the Italian civilization was also meant to contribute to bringing Yugoslavia politically and ideologically closer to the Fascist regime. Despite the invested resources and the success of some major events (for example, the great exhibition of Italian portraits through the centuries) the results were disappointing, showing once again the structural limits of Fascist political and cultural action abroad.

Keywords: Italian cultural action, Yugoslavia, Fascism, Balkans, foreign policy