Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Fascism, Imperialism and International Law: An Arch Met a Motorway and the Rest is History…

Parfitt, Rose (2018) Fascism, Imperialism and International Law: An Arch Met a Motorway and the Rest is History…. Leiden Journal of International Law, 31 (3). pp. 509-538. ISSN 0922-1565. E-ISSN 1478-9698. (doi:10.1017/S0922156518000304) (KAR id:67220)


What would happen to our understanding of international law and its relationship with violence if we collapsed the distinction between our supposedly post-colonial ‘present’ and its colonial ‘past’; between the sovereign spaces of the twenty-first century global order, and the integrated, hierarchical space of fascist imperialism? I respond to this question through an investigation into the physical contours of a precise ‘imperial location’: 30°31'00"N, 18°34'00"E. These coordinates refer to a point on the sea-edge of the Sirtica that is occupied, today, by the Ra’s Lanuf oil refinery, one of Libya’s three most important such facilities. In the late-1930s, however, during Libya’s period of fascist colonial rule, this was the spot at which a state-of-the-art motorway, the Via litoranea libica, was crossed by a giant triumphal arch, the Arco dei Fileni. Through a chronotopic reading of the temporal, spatial and interpellative aspects of this point, its architecture and its history, I suggest that fascist lawyers, officials and intellectuals accepted an unfortunate truth about the relationship between international law and violence – a relationship that twenty-first century doctrinal international law is loath to confront. This truth concerns the inherently expansionist logic of the sovereign state, and the inevitably hierarchical ordering of the ‘international community’ which stems from it.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0922156518000304
Projects: International Law and the Legacies of Fascist Internationalism
Uncontrolled keywords: fascism, imperialism, sovereignty, statehood,temporality
Subjects: K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Funders: Australian Research Council (
Depositing User: Rose Parfitt
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2018 14:44 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 16:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.