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Beyond the Campo Cintato: Prostitutes, migrants and criminals in colonial Asmara (Eritrea), 1890-1941

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Chapter Summary

The occupation of Asmara(Eritrea) symbolised for the Italians the establishment of the first African colony, the colonia primogenita. Campo Cintato became the location in which the colonial troops entrenched themselves and started the fortification of all occupied areas. Alongside casual labourers and migrants, women selling alcohol in their houses and prostitutes came to form the underworld of Asmaras native quarters. Control over prostitutes was justified by colonial fear of the spread of venereal disease. African free time took place mainly in the sewa houses and bars of the indigenous areas of Asmara. The growth of poverty, the spread of social crimes and the possible development of the political consciousness amongst the indigenous population led the Italian administration to tighten its security measures and led to expulsion of criminals and undesirables from the colony. Throughout the period of Italian colonialism, Asmara underwent significant change which still affects its present-day life.

Keywords: African; Asmara; Campo Cintato; colonia primogenita; criminals; Eritrea; Italian; migrants; prostitutes; sewa houses

10.1163/ej.9789004162648.i-308.62
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