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Fri, 23 Sept


University of Malta Valletta Campus

Talk by Prof Dominic Fenech: The Self-Government Experience in Malta: 1921-1933

To understand how the Maltese govern, you need to look back at their political history.

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Talk by Prof Dominic Fenech: The Self-Government Experience in Malta: 1921-1933
Talk by Prof Dominic Fenech: The Self-Government Experience in Malta: 1921-1933

Time & Location

23 Sept 2022, 18:00 – 19:30

University of Malta Valletta Campus , Saint Paul Street, Valletta VLT 1216


About the event

Dominic Fenech’s Talk – The Self-Government Experience in Malta

Fast forward from the year Malta gained independence in 1964 to the current year. Unsurprisingly the  Malta’s political scenario is still dominated by two mainstream political parties who have contributed to a  high level of polarisation  Although Malta, like all other countries in the West, has embraced secularism it has remained imbued with a religious conservative mindset that has not yet fully opened up to the liberal issues of our times. The Church still retains a heavy influence on the mindset of the Maltese establishment while clientelism , a relic of colonialism, is still highly embedded in the Maltese political culture. Such a dominant culture sustains the political rivalry of  the ‘us versus them’  which seeps into other aspects of Maltese culture, most notably in village feasts and village bands. Another peculiar rivalry in our island features football fans who support Italian and English teams.

Leading historian Prof Dominic Fenech, will be offering in our next talk such insightful perceptions on our political background as he refers to his publication  ‘1921 Self Government in Malta.’ He will explain how constitutional developments aiming to give Malta’s first taste of limited self-governance in a British colony were finally spurned into action following the 1919 Sette Giugno riots.

He will also be expanding on the self-government experience between 1921 and 1933 that was bedevilled by political squabbling between the main four political parties of that time  and the strong disagreements with the British Colonial Government on call for dominion status. In this stage of the democratic process  the local politicians had to struggle with  the thorny language divide between Italian and English, the preservation of  our Catholic faith  and its cultural expression and the status quo of an economy which, characterised by several traits of a pre-industrial society, was far from being sustainable.

All of which could perhaps  illustrate how our initial political autonomy was illusory at that time as whatever limited power was granted by the colonial government was in the grips of a handful of elites who had a hard time to come together and present a united political front  Nevertheless, Prof Dominic Fenech’s talk might help us appreciate that despite all the failures, upsets and setbacks that resulted from the self-governing experience between 1921 and 1933 the very first seeds of democracy were disseminated  to prepare  Malta for its eventual embrace of independence in 1964.  As always , we  have much to learn in our political philosophy by looking back at our past.

About the Speaker

Dominic Fenech is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, Head of the History Department and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malta. He holds a D.Phil in modern history from the University of Oxford where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. His main research and teaching interests are in the areas of Mediterranean  politics, contemporary international relations as well as in Malta's political and constitutional history and current political developments.


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