As Western commentators scrambled to interpret Libya's part in the ‘Arab spring' of 2011, virtually none recognised the significance of the Italian colonial period in constituting the state they analysed. Now that this state appears to be disintegrating into its component regions, it is pertinent to interrogate this 1930s exercise in state-creation. A crucial element of the creation of Libya was the process of defining the extent and nature of the colony's space, and its subsequent transformation into colonial territory via the application of modern ‘colonial science'. This project will explore how the generation of knowledge about Libyan regions was a key element of the Italian colonial project. More specifically, the project will address: how a self-consciously Italian ‘colonial science' was theorised and employed in Libya, how the cartography and regional survey that constituted this colonial science were generated and applied, how this ‘colonial science' represented and defined Libyan territory and peoples to enable Italian governance; How far this exercise produced the modern state of Libya.