Ongoing projects

Environmental history of the summits of the southern Vosges (13th - 18th century). 01/02/2022 - 31/07/2022

Abstract

Jean-Baptiste Ortlieb studies the environmental history of some of the higher summits of the "High Vosges" ("Hautes Vosges", Grand Est, France), between the end of the medieval period (13th century) and the revolutionary period (end of the 18th century). Environmental history's new paradigms modify the understanding of certain social phenomena, analyzing the emergence of a 'modern' relationship to nature, including the commodification of natural 'resources' and the appreciation for 'wild', or 'untamed' nature. It does so by employing transdisciplinary methods, combining historical archival research, with soil and archaeological data, and paleo-climatic and -botanical research. Such approach is an opportunity to rewrite the history of an 'old' historical object, the Vosges mountains. We will do so by focusing on the mountain pastures – the 'chaumes' of a well-defined number of Vosges summits, located on both side of the main ridge line separating the two historic regions of Alsace and Lorraine. By going beyond the only regional and local issues, the aim is to highlight the existence of complex relationships between humans and their environment, based on a survey carried out over the "long term". An original corpus is based on the crossing of written and cartographic sources with archaeology and geomorphology data. It makes it possible to concretely query the relationship between societies and summits, between human and "non-human" actors, within a so-called "social agrosystem". For his research in Antwerp, Jean-Baptiste Ortlieb will elaborate the crucial concept of 'social agrosystem', as developed by Erik Thoen and supervisor Tim Soens, and for a first time apply it on a mountainous environment – outside the core of pre-industrial settlement. Elaborating on the concept of social agro-system, with its emphasis on the different social configurations of agricultural production, Jean-Baptiste Ortlieb will incorporate the dynamics of non-human variables (including vegetation and climate), and provide a better understanding of the different models of appropriation and exploitation of the mountain chaumes. Gradually evolving over time, and also with significant contrasts between summits, a series of fundamental reconfigurations of human actors and non-human variables become visible, with 'common pool' models of human exploitation of the 'chaumes' giving away to private concessions, changes in the intensity of exploitation and the commercialization of its products and the rise of new forms of valuation of the natural altitude environments. This results directly in a chapter of the PhD-thesis, which will also be published as stand-alone article. During his stay in Antwerp he will also elaborate his historical GIS of the Vosges region, integrating the results of the archaeological excavation realized in September 2020 and allowing a spatial analysis of landscape and social evolutions. This part of the research will greatly profit from the expertise of the GIStorical Antwerp team. The result is a fundamental reassessment of human-nature interaction in the middle mountains, during a period marked by the emergence of a new relationship between Western societies and nature.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Rethinking 'sailortown': Comparing the socioeconomic dynamics of harbour districts in Antwerp and Boston, 1850-1930. 01/11/2021 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

During the nineteenth century, port cities in Europe and the United States changed significantly as a result of increasing migration levels, rapid urban expansion and increasing transport connections, which created diverse neighbourhoods near the port or so-called 'sailortowns'. This project will study how increasing global interconnectedness impacted on these harbour districts. By applying a mixed method approach that combines prosopographical research with life course and critical discourse analysis, this research will explore the identities of transients and residents, and their interactions with each other and different layers and dimensions of the evolving urban and global landscape. Comparative research on Antwerp and Boston aims to reveal that issues, such as migration and urbanization, fostered community life, rather than destroying it. An in-depth social analysis of sailortowns as dynamic neighbourhoods is highly relevant, because these districts are all too often branded as distinct and dangerous areas by contemporaries, which contributes to the more negative representation of sailortowns in the exiting literature. This research will also transcend the maritime sector as it will provide much needed insights into the impact of migration, urbanization and increasing mobility on present-day diverse neighbourhoods that are negatively stereotyped because of their international character.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Private partnerships in early modern Antwerp (1621-1791). 01/11/2021 - 30/04/2022

Abstract

This project focuses on private partnerships in Antwerp in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Whereas historians have paid much attention to the rise and corporate structure of Dutch trading companies, the origins and early development of private partnerships remain understudied. In the seventeenth century, French jurists put forward a model consisting of several ideal-type categories of private partnerships, in which the extent of the partners' external liability was one of the main distinctive features. For instance, this factor was used to differentiate general and limited partnerships. However, these ideal-types are based on French legal sources and cannot simply be translated to the Low Countries. Preliminary studies on partnership contracts in early modern Antwerp (1480-1620) have demonstrated that entrepreneurs did not think in terms of liability to third parties; instead, they were more concerned with partnership-internal relationships. The discrepancy between, on the one hand, the ideal-types, and, on the other hand, 'real life' or how the entrepreneurs conducted trade in practice is the starting point of the project. The main goal is to challenge the ideal-type narrative for the Low Countries and to draw lessons about the interplay between legal contexts and economic practices. In this respect, Antwerp proves to be an excellent case study because the bylaw ledgers (Consuetudines impressae and Consuetudines compilatae) contain many clauses related to commercial practices (the law) and because of the large number of notarial ledgers that have been preserved in the city archives (the practices). By studying these bylaws and notarized private partnership agreements, this project strives to broaden our knowledge about early modern corporate structures in early modern Antwerp, while at the same time aiming to establish the extent to which entrepreneurs complied with statutory legislation. In sum, we expect to be able to paint a dynamic and diverse picture of early modern Antwerp, in which many different contracts and private partnerships existed.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

ZAPBOF research professorship for ERC Starting Grant 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2026

Abstract

From the eighteenth century onwards, the future was considered as open, uncertain and constructible – the way we tend to perceive the future today. In contrast, early modern Europeans believed that the future was beyond the control of man. The aim of this project is to challenge such grand narratives on past futures, which are generally highly linear and focused on modernity, have a fuzzy chronology and thin empirical base, biased by learned text. Moreover, these hypotheses fail to do justice to the presence and interplay of various (multi)temporalities and do not link future expectations to the concrete actions of men and women in the past. Most historians simply ignore the topic, since past futures are extremely hard to find in the written record. Hence, they focus on the actions of men and women in the past rather than their motivations. To gain more insight in how people in the past thought about the future and how this affected their actions, this project draws on a highly innovative combination of close and distant reading methods of more than 15,000 letters written in (varieties of) Italian, German, French, Dutch and English by and to European merchants in the period 1400-1830. These practical documents enable us to reconstruct different types of future thinking of these merchants and to assess how these thoughts powered their actual behaviour. Better still, they also shed light on the future expectations of their non-merchant correspondents: their wives, children and other family members, clerks, clergy, nobles, craftsmen, etc. A comparative analysis of the letters from these different social groups, written in several languages, in a variety of European regions and during distinct moments, allows us to identify the impact/speed of potential agents of change that loom large in the literature (capitalism, the Reformation, probability calculus, and the Enlightenment) more carefully. With this methodology, we will be able to provide fine-grained explanations.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Assessing and improving TOD projects in Belgian and Swedish RURs. 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

The research project aims to develop novel understandings of the interaction between generic, urban TOD models and the pre-existing social and spatial contexts of RURs in which TOD projects are undertaken. The project focuses on (i) who is developing specific TOD projects for which reasons and with which social and landscape impacts; (ii) frictions between the pre-existing social and landscape context of RURs and the imaginaries of TOD development plans. Cases examined are TODs in the RUR of Antwerp and Stockholm/Uppsala.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

BOF Expatriation allowance VLIR Scientific Chair Rubens 2021 01/08/2021 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Every year, the universities of Berkeley, UCLA and Pennsylvania, in cooperation with the Flemish Interuniversity Council and the Department of Education and Training, each award a chair to a researcher connected to one of the Flemish universities and active in the field of 'Dutch studies'. The aim of the chairs is to perpetuate the culture, literature, history and art of the Low Countries as an integral part of the curriculum at the American host institution. The visiting professor is invited for one trimester (at least 10 weeks). Bert De Munck will hold the Rubens Chair in 2021 and will teach the course "European Cities and the Urban Imaginary: A Long Term, Comparative and Postcolonial View on European Urbanization".

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Mapping Practices under Pressure. The everyday experience of socio-economic change in deindustrialising cities, 1960-2000 (MPP). 01/05/2021 - 30/04/2023

Abstract

The project uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) to map how everyday practices changed in European cities under the pressure of deindustrialization between the 1960s and 1990s. It will substantiate the hypothesis that the processes of social transformation, which have led to phenomena of social and cultural polarization, cannot simply be deducted from socio-economic factors alone, but hinge on the (re-)production of social status, gender and ethnicity in everyday routines. Spatial analysis using GIS offers a suitable tool to reconstruct the relevance of practices in processes of social transformation because everyday routines aggregated around places, nodes and networks, and these localizations in turn become important references in defining social relations. Accessing and analysing information about past practices brings with it methodological challenges which the project addresses by combining oral history interviews with digital mapping techniques. With this, the project will contribute to the ongoing efforts to devise methodologies, which allow to further expand research in the field of digital spatial humanities into the realm of qualitative data and "deep mapping". It will build on the extensive expertise of the HI (University of Antwerp Centre for Urban History) and will be integrated in the HI's initiatives to refine the DARIAH and CLARIN infrastructures in the 'Spatial Humanities'. The project will therefore contribute to the field of contemporary urban history and to the methodological advancement of GIS as a tool of historical research.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Exploring the potential of digital historical maps for landscape history: crowdsourcing the Arenberg historical map collection. 01/04/2021 - 31/03/2022

Abstract

For a long time historical maps have been cherished as objects of great value and beauty, illustrating the evolving representation of the world, cities and (rural) landscapes. Recently, they tend to be seen as more than mere illustrations. Up until now, however, preparing historical maps and building spatial databases of directly deductible information to allow the use of these maps as primary sources for fundamental research, was a very labor-intensive process. This is caused mainly by the necessity of two time-consuming preparatory steps that have to be undertaken to (pre-)process historical maps: 1) the georectification (overlay of historical maps with present-day situation) and 2) the spatial annotation of toponyms (transcription and localisation of place names). Grasping the full opportunities of the recently started close FED-tWIN-co-operation between the History Department of the University of Antwerp and the Belgian State Archives, this project aims to offer an alternative to solve the bottle-neck in the processing and use of digital historical maps: the development of a web-application for crowdsourcing both the georectification and spatial annotation of historical maps. Teaming up with ICT-partner Webmapper, ca. 3.000 high-resolution scanned historical maps from the Arenberg collection, digitized by and held at the Belgian State Archives, will be opened to the 'crowd' in order to establish a spatial database of up to (or over) 100.000 toponyms. Once completed, this database serves a threefold research objective: 1) fundamental research on landscape history based on 'big data of the past', in this case large datasets of toponyms; 2) using local toponyms as a way to include other sources for spatial research and 3) an exploration of the possibilities and limitations of crowdsourcing when scaling-up the research in the coming years.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Historical Demography. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

The Scientific Research Network Historical Demography (hereafte r HiDo ) brings scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds together. HiDo will consist of 14 research groups from Flanders (UGent, KU Leuven UAntwerp ), Canada, Denmark, Norway, UK, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and Wallonia. The idea is that by joint efforts and systematic comparisons, important scientific progress can be made . HiDo will promote historical demography at the international level by broadening and deepening scientific knowledge and increasing capacity building in col- laborative partnerships. HiDo will be organised around five Working Groups (WG), each focusing on a particular theme. Two WGs focus on topics in which Flemish historical demography is currently at the forefront (WG I: international compari- sons of causes of death, and WG I I: long term trends in partner choice, love and marriage), and two WGs work on topics in which research in Flanders is currently underdeveloped (WG III: historical demography of colonial socie- ties and WG IV: citizen science in historical demography). A fifth workgroup aims to foster new collaborations with biologists and geneticists. The overall aim of the network is to consolidate and strengthen the international posi- tion of the Flemish research units on the research themes covered by WG I and II , while catching up and getting a stronghold on the themes covered by WG III and IV through strategic partnerships with international research units that have built u p extensive experience and know how in those particular domains. At the same time the research in WG III and IV is expected to cause important spill over effects for WG I and II, as colonial population history will improve our insights of the population history of the metropolis, while citizen science projects can lead to new and forceful data efforts in all WGs. Workgroup V specifically aims to create long term ties with biolo- gists and geneticists who can both contribute to and profit from historical demographic data and analysis. In this way, HiDo aims to create and sustain open, productive and sustainable partnerships between Flemish and re- search groups abroad working in the broader field of historical demography and beyond.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

City and change III: Towards a sustainable integration of disciplines in urban studies. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

Recent literature in urban studies tends to identify and define the city as an ever more complex and hybrid reality, referring to the urban as something 'splintered', 'assembled' and 'imagined' while seeking refuge in new concepts and catchphrases like 'post'-city, 'non'-city, or 'ex'-urban. Our collective research initiative will transcend this not by churning out even more new theories and concepts, but by analysing the very activity of defining the city as a historical process and practice. To that end, we will concentrate on four concrete, complementary domains, in which the definition of cities is at stake by nature. By focusing on (1) 'suburbanisation', (2) 'territoriality', and (3) 'urban citizenship' we examine the existence and meaningfulness of physical, social and imagined boundaries in defining the urban and urbanity. The theme of 'knowledge' (4) adds a reflexive layer by analysing the long term interconnections between the urban reality and knowledge formation – including knowledge on the city itself.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) for Inclusive and Sustainable Rural-Urban Regions (TOD-IS-RUR). 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

TOD-IS-RUR focuses on Transit Oriented Development (TOD), conceiving public transport as a backbone for socially Inclusive and environmentally Sustainable urbanisation in European Rural-Urban Regions (RURs). If Europe is to make a transition to inclusive and sustainable urbanisation, this extension of TOD to RURs is essential, as most Europeans live in RURs, not just in urban cores. TOD-IS-RUR sets up an interdisciplinary, international and intersectoral network to analyse, develop and test-case innovative approaches countering sprawl in RURs by bringing in expertise from urban studies and drawing on a wide-range of European contexts. The 9 Beneficiaries and 12 Partner Organisations create a unique platform for 10 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), providing expert-level training in analysing and improving TOD for RURs.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The embarrassment of riches? Inequality and the Dutch material culture. Amsterdam, 1581-1780. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

At present, the historical study of social inequality ranks high on the research agenda, and in the past years our knowledge of changing income and wealth inequality has progressed significantly. The major ambition of this project is to contribute to a more balanced multidimensional view on social inequality by studying the material inequality in "Golden Age" Amsterdam. In so doing we will contribute to a deeper understanding of one of the critical transition periods in the history of European material culture. Recent historiography has credited the Dutch society of the seventeenth century for its pivotal role in the genesis of a new, allegedly more modern consumer culture. Thanks to the influence of the urban middling layers of society, the argument goes, the very nature of consumption changed in this era/area. When it comes to 'material culture' in the Netherlands luxury consumption is thought to have emancipated from conspicuous consumption, a luxury model which traditionally was associated with skewed societies. Rather than reproducing social inequalities, which 'old luxury' consumer pattern did, 'new luxuries' targeted the middling sort of people and served multiple goals such as comfort, pleasure, respectability. This project is the first major attempt to empirically verify this authoritative Dutch urban consumer hypothesis by explicitly linking it to debates on social and economic inequality.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Epidemics and inequalities in Belgium from the plague to COVID-19: what can we learn about societal resilience? 15/12/2020 - 15/03/2025

Abstract

Facemasks might be helpful to overcome COVID-19, blindfolds most certainly are not. And yet, scientists and policy makers working to assess, absorb and overcome the impact of COVID-19 often seem to work blindfolded, as the crisis presently unfolding is presumed to be 'unprecedented'. EPIBEL argues that this is not the case and that there is a lot to be learnt from epidemic history, most notably with regard to inequalities in impact and resilience. As COVID-19 makes clear, epidemics are far from 'universal' shocks: some people are much more likely to suffer in their health and their material wellbeing than others. However, as the pandemic is still unfolding, our understanding of these inequalities is still limited. We do not yet fully understand who suffered and why they suffered. What is more, we ignore how this social bias in impact will eventually affect societal resilience – the way societies are able to absorb the shock and adapt to prevent similar shocks in the future. EPIBEL hence mobilizes the wealth of information on differential vulnerability and resilience following major epidemics in the history of Belgium/the Southern Low Countries, in order to improve our understanding of societal resilience today, in three interacting domains: health, economy and social care. In order to do so, EPIBEL first of all examines the role of socio-demographic and -economic inequalities in COVID-19 mortality. Who died as a result of the pandemic? Besides age and gender, how did place of residence, occupation, education or income shape the risk of dying from COVID-19? Secondly, EPIBEL investigates whether inequalities in COVID-19 mortality differed from previous epidemic outbreaks, both in their short-term impact and in longer-term resilience. Thirdly, EPIBEL aims to understand whether inequalities in the economic impact of epidemic outbreaks mirrored pre-existing socio-economic inequalities, how they interacted with health inequalities, and how they compromised societal resilience. Fourthly, EPIBEL investigates how the scale and organisation of social care and welfare systems might mitigate the effects of an epidemic outbreak on the poor and foster their resilience; and finally, EPIBEL informs policy-makers on the importance of inequalities when promoting societal resilience. How have 'epidemic policies' in the past affected resilience? Are policies which explicitly take into account inequalities more efficient in promoting resilience than more 'universal' policies?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Epidemics and inequalities in Belgium from the plague to COVID-19: what can we learn about societal resilience? 15/12/2020 - 15/03/2025

Abstract

The overarching goal of the EPIBEL-project team is to map and explain inequalities in the impact of epidemic outbreaks. COVID-19 demonstrated that some people are more likely to suffer in their health and their material well being than others. However, as the pandemic is still unfolding, our understanding of these inequalities is still limited. What is more, we ignore how this social bias in impact will eventually affect societal resilience – the way societies are able to absorb the shock and adapt to prevent similar shocks in the future. However, COVID-19 is not the first epidemic outbreak which hit the world. Hence, EPIBEL systematically compares COVID-19 with five previous epidemic outbreaks: the 1918/19 'Spanish' Flu, the 1866 cholera epidemic, dysentery in 1692/93 and plague in 1438/39 and 1556/59. All of these were perceived by contemporaries as major outbreaks. As a result they are well documented and resulted in the formulation of epidemic policies with lasting impact. The central objective of the EPIBEL-project is to analyse the role of socio-demographic and economic inequalities during and after previous epidemic outbreaks in the past. The researcher on this project will investigate the capacity of social care and welfare systems to mitigate the effects of past epidemic outbreaks on the poor and least privileged groups in society. Combining statistical data on poverty with archival research on local providers of social care, EPIBEL will assess A) the organisation of welfare provisioning; B) the volume and nature of support; C) the number and societal profile of the recipients and D) the public debate on welfare policies related to epidemic outbreaks.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website

Seas of Risk and Resilience: peasant fishing on the late medieval English coasts as a coping strategy against climate-induced hazards. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2022

Abstract

All across the globe, coastal communities are facing increased risks because of climate and environmental change. A similar dynamic existed in the later middle ages, when periods of increased climatic instability marked the onset of the Little Ice Age. Both historical and environmental studies have considered the sea merely as a danger, due to storm floods causing destruction along the coastline. The sea could however also provide opportunities, as access to fishing could provide income and sustenance in times of increased uncertainty because of storminess and harvest failures. This project challenges the dominant image of peasants as exceptionally vulnerable by exploring peasant fishing activities as a coping strategy, an aspect that has been overlooked as fishing history focused on the rise of specialisation and scale enlargement. The aim is to analyse if, where and when coastal peasants could combine their farming activities with fishing, and whether this reduced the risk of living on the English coast in times of climate change between the mid-thirteenth and mid-fifteenth century. Through the quantitative as well as qualitative use of the unique manorial source situation in late medieval England, this project can include the previously overlooked fishing practices that could potentially facilitate a resilient society.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Politicians on the market? Framing French consumerism in an age of regime change (Paris, c. 1780 - c. 1870) 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2022

Abstract

This research proposal aims to study the political embedding of French consumption (i.e. 'French consumerism'), and questions how political debates have shaped commercial parlor in an age of regime change (c.1780-c.1870). Heavily indebted by the idea that the shift from an absolutist state to a modern liberal nation caused a general 'depoliticisation' of emerging French consumer society, historians have, in general, refrained from analysing how consumption was actually embedded in political discourses. This proposal's first objective is to reconstruct and analyse emerging political visions on the relationship between the French consumer and society. Through discursively analysing discussions about consumerism in parliamentary sources, this research will show how competing political ideologies (i.e. liberalism, republicanism and conservatism) have tried to frame consumption as a political-ideological project. Our second objective is to test whether these political reimaginings of consumption had a concrete influence on commercial discourse, more in particular on advertising language. By a serial and long-term discursive analysis of a varied range of commercial advertisements, the particular political framing of consumer choice and advertisement parlor will become clear. Given its unique position as both centre of political change and prime consumer market of the nation, Paris – capital of fashion, luxury and politics – will prove to be the ideal test case for this study.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Future expectations and actions in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Low Countries. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

This project investigates future expectations and the resulting actions in the 16th- and 17th-century Low Countries. The analysis of the contents and discourse of written future statements will verify whether the future began to be perceived as open and uncertain, resulting from the rise of capitalism and/or changes in beliefs. This project goes beyond the current research which focused on: 1) the revolutionary eighteenth century; 2) the rather obvious, canonical and learned texts written by the intelligentsia; 3) singular accounts of the future: divination, magic and the eschatological end of times, without looking into their interplay with other types of future expectations (for example, more short term or secular expectations); 4) only future expectations and not taking into account the relation between this thinking and the actions that it may have caused. This project mainly draws on a large source collection of merchant correspondence. The different collections of merchant letters will be searched for future statements which will be close-read, contextualized and entered into a database which will include variables about the discourse and future horizons of these expressions, the identities of the authors, and the actions motivated by the future expectation. The project has three key outcomes: 1) a fuller and more complex understanding of people's perception and framing of the future; 2) (dis)proving whether a shift in thoughts and beliefs about the future did occur and whether this is in line with narratives of modernity and the rise of capitalism; 3) much better insights in the relations between future thinking and the actions that may have followed out of it in the past; 4) a new methodology.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Co-creating complementary forms of welfare support across faith-based organisations and secular welfare state institutions (SOLIGION). 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

Our project sets out to produce better forms of collaboration and more complementary forms of solidarity between faith-based (including humanistic) organisations (FBOs) and secular welfare state institutions (WSIs). It does so by 1° examining the dynamic interaction between FBOs and WSIs in an interdisciplinary way and through a multi-method approach and 2° the co-creation by both FBOs and WSIs of new practices of solidarity and social support. The interdisciplinary and multi-method approach serves to 1° reveal the potentialities and frictions of FBOs in relation to the political standards of secular WSIs and 2° transcend essentialist and dichotomous views so as to understand existing forms of negotiation and mutual adaptation. In concrete terms, the project will map the FBOs active in the field of local social support in five cities (Research Project 1), examine the interaction between FBOs and WSIs from an historical and political-philosophical angle (RP2 and RP3), and create shared insights as well as new procedures and practices through action research (RP4). Building on this, the process of co-creation will involve two related working groups. WG1 will produce a concept and pilot for a dynamic and interactive social map and ICTinterface, proceeding from existing (fragmented, non-dynamic and non-interactive) social maps and the results of RP1 while jointly tackling issues of selection and definition. WG2 will build on the insights generated in the scientific part so as to conceive educational and training modules for 1° volunteers and social workers, 2° local employees (of WSIs) and policy makers, 3° instructors and mentors involved in the integration of newcomers, and 4° future professional social workers. Implementation is ensured through close collaboration with organizations targeting exactly these groups. The method of co-creation fosters implementation because the results will be based on shared concerns, insights and objectives.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Accommodating (im)mobility. Spaces of accommodation as hubs between global migration flows and local urban life, 1850-1930. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

Both in contemporary literature as in historical research, the arrival of travellers and migrants in a city has been described as a critical moment. A lack of knowledge about the urban context they arrived in as well as a lack of trustworthy information made them vulnerable for abuse. This project will focus on the arrival in the city as a crucial moment for newcomers to orientate into the urban fabric and on spaces of accommodation as crucial locations of encounter for different actors intending to channel mobile people. This project will study spaces of accommodation as key hub in the infrastructural complexes of arrival within the urban environment, offering space where people got connected and could decide to settle, find a job, or to prepare for onward travel, or conversely, where people were deceived and hindered in aspired mobility trajectories. It will reveal how these places functioned as funnel places between the global flows and the local urban environment, where the practices of and conflicts over the movement of people were constructed and contested, impacting both upon the mobility trajectories of people and the socio-spatial development of the city. The objectives are to explore 1) the changing roles and functions of these spaces of accommodation within the complex arrival infrastructure and the urban environment in the period 1850-1930, characterised by a strong increase and democratisation of migration and mobility, but also by growing concerns and moral panics about mobile people; 2) and to identify causes of these evolutions by emphasizing changing interactions but also tensions and conflicts between different actors and organisations trying to influence mobility patterns. Its results will not only enhance our understanding in the ways these spaces of accommodation were used to enhance or obstruct mobility. It will also bring a fluid population into the picture which has remained concealed by the dominant view on migrants who settled and were registered, as well as bridge the gap between migration, mobility, and urban studies.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Digital maps and archives: activating cartographic collections in a digital world (DIGHIMAPS). 01/09/2020 - 31/08/2030

Abstract

For a long time cartographic collections have been cherished as objects of great value and beauty, illustrating the evolving representation of the world, the city or the landscape. Over the past decade, the massive high-resolution digitization of historical maps, for instance in Belgium through the Cartesius-project, enabled the general public to explore map collections using easily accessible geographic search engines. Over the next years however, it's time to move one step further: careful georeferencing and vectorization of maps, as well as the (semi-)automatic recognition of their content will allow us to link maps to other types of digital content (other maps but also textual sources and iconography). Nowadays, efforts of geo-spatialization, digitization and data-integration are still costly, time-consuming and fragmented. Several technologies – such as automatic transcription of old handwriting or automatic extraction of graphical forms from historical maps – are still in an experimental stage. However, initiatives like the European Time Machine bid, in which both the Belgian State Archives and the University of Antwerp participate, are aiming for a technological breakthrough creating the 'Big Data of the Past'. With this project, we aim to explore how historical maps can play a crucial role in this process. Building on existing efforts of digitization and geolocalization at the State Archives of Belgium and UAntwerp, DIGHIMAPS unleashes the full potential of digital cartographic collections as key to unlock a new digital universe in which space enables an entirely novel way to organize, search, analyze and visualize archival data and collections. DIGHIMAPS turns the unique cartographic heritage of the Belgian State Archives into the centerpiece of a spatial digital infrastructure, which once fully operational will provide A) a significantly improved knowledge of historical maps; B) Improved geographic search engines, fueled by an 'open' and map-based geohistorical gazetteer; C) a wealth of possible applications in the rapidly emerging fields of spatial history and spatial humanities; D) A 'virtual map room' allowing a highly diversified community of users to perform the searches and map analyses adapted to their individual requirements.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Back to the Future: Future expectations and actions in late medieval and early modern Europe, c.1400-c.1830 (Back2theFuture). 01/02/2020 - 31/01/2025

Abstract

From the eighteenth century onwards, the future was considered as open, uncertain and constructible – the way we tend to perceive the future today. In contrast, early modern Europeans believed that the future was beyond the control of man. The aim of this project is to challenge such grand narratives on past futures, which are generally highly linear and focused on modernity, have a fuzzy chronology and thin empirical base, biased by learned text. Moreover, these hypotheses fail to do justice to the presence and interplay of various (multi)temporalities and do not link future expectations to the concrete actions of men and women in the past. Most historians simply ignore the topic, since past futures are extremely hard to find in the written record. Hence, they focus on the actions of men and women in the past rather than their motivations. To gain more insight in how people in the past thought about the future and how this affected their actions, this project draws on a highly innovative combination of close and distant reading methods of more than 15,000 letters written in (varieties of) Italian, German, French, Dutch and English by and to European merchants in the period 1400-1830. These practical documents enable us to reconstruct different types of future thinking of these merchants and to assess how these thoughts powered their actual behaviour. Better still, they also shed light on the future expectations of their non-merchant correspondents: their wives, children and other family members, clerks, clergy, nobles, craftsmen, etc. A comparative analysis of the letters from these different social groups, written in several languages, in a variety of European regions and during distinct moments, allows us to identify the impact/speed of potential agents of change that loom large in the literature (capitalism, the Reformation, probability calculus, and the Enlightenment) more carefully. With this methodology, we will be able to provide fine-grained explanations.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Food from Somewhere? Urban Households, Access to Land and Alternative Food Entitlements in the Late Medieval City. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2023

Abstract

Medieval cities were obsessed by food, food supplies and food shortages. Like in most pre-1900 societies, extreme weather conditions, warfare, trade conflicts easily disrupted the precarious food supplies, resulting in recurrent and virulent price spikes and potentially unleashing social unrest. No wonder then, that urban food supplies or 'Feeding the city' has been a prominent topic in economic history for decades, with a particular emphasis on the later Middle Ages, period of far-reaching crisis, instability and economic transformation in Europe and beyond. All of this literature however, is based upon the assumption that cities, above a certain population level, are basically fed through the market, where rural agricultural surpluses are exchanged against the products of urban industry and trade. Urged by recent articulations of alternative ways of urban food provisioning – notably the rise of Urban Agriculture and all efforts to replace anonymous 'Food from Nowhere' mediated by increasingly globalized food markets by more localized 'Food from Somewhere' – this project aims at revolutionizing our understanding of urban food provisioning in the past, by questioning the self-evidence of the market as hegemonic allocator of food in past urban societies. In this project, the key to achieve such paradigm shift in urban food history, is sought in the access to land. The accumulation of both urban and rural land by urban households has been documented in many contexts, but is mostly explained in terms of capital investment and rent seeking and as a tool of social ascent. The food generating capacity of land is mostly overlooked, or minimized as a sign of economic backwardness, small 'agro-towns' or a mere survival strategy for the urban poor. Either through the direct cultivation of land in the city and its periphery, through deliveries in kind by rural tenants or rural family-members or through access to urban commons, land might have provided a wide range of 'alternative food entitlements' for many different social groups, with or without the capability and incentive to secure a market-independent access to food. Understanding the role of land for feeding the citizens (rather than the city) might be crucial to understand the dynamics of food markets in the later Middle Ages. What if land-based food supplies did not contract but rather expand with the development of food markets? What if dependency of the food markets became connected with lower social status? After all, the social fabric of the late medieval cities was both characterized by an ascent of 'corporate' middle classes, and the disposition of alternative, land-based food supplies, might be one of the instruments through which these middling class tried to emulate the social elites, leaving the food market for the lower strata of urban society. Such observation would significantly change our understanding of 'imperfect' food markets and failing food policies. For Ghent, Norwich and Dijon, three comparatively large cities with a pronounced difference in connection to regional and long-distance food trade, an in-depth analysis of alternative food entitlements at the household level, will allow to reveal the contexts in which alternative food economies flourished; their relative contribution to the supply of urban households; the actors and networks involved in such supplies; the solidarity and dependency they create and finally their integration in or interaction with the urban food market. If successful this project might not only generate important new insights in the history of urban food provisioning in late medieval Europe, but also offer an important historical contribution to present-day debates on the viability and social dynamics of alternative urban food supplies.

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Research team(s)

Decentring diligence. Time, work and the industrious revolution in early modern Italy (1570-1840). 01/12/2019 - 30/11/2021

Abstract

More than two decades ago, Jan de Vries launched a controversial theory, that still echoes through economic, social, and even cultural history. According to his hypothesis of the Industrious Revolution time became money in the Dutch Republic. Mesmerized by and endless variety of fashionable and exotic consumer goods, Jan Modaal was keen to cut back on his leisure time. Labourers started a bit earlier at work or left somewhat later, they cut back on breaks, and pruned the dead wood of Feast- and Saint's Days. Moreover, the family-based income was further enhanced by putting women and children to work. Despite the boldness of the claim, the evidence on industriousness remained, at first, rather limited, as de Vries initially launched his hypothesis as a largely theoretical solution for a paradox. On the one hand, consumption was obviously on the march, as the list of chattels and goods in post-mortem inventories ever grew longer, while, on the other hand, (real) wages levelled out or took a plunge. Industriousness might have offered a way out of the conundrum. Nonetheless, the evidence to corroborate these claims remained limited until the economic historian Hans-Joachim Voth turned to a rather unexpected source. Drawing evidence from the proceedings of the Old Bailey, Voth traced some important evolutions in time-use, although his findings did not fit smoothly with de Vries' initial hypothesis. Except for his research, the empirical data on industriousness remains flimsy. Moreover, preliminary research has challenged its tenability for other parts of Europe. The lack of empirical data is especially problematic for Mediterranean Europe, as Vries' and Voth's data are sometimes used to flesh out the idea of a Little Divergence between the industrious North and the slothful South. Drawing new evidence from the Tribunale del governatore di Roma (Archivio di Stato), the project aims to move beyond this black-and-white stereotype. Was industriousness really a privilege of the "miracle economies" of the North or had it already struck root much earlier in the South? Was everyday time awareness and time-use radically reshuffled in early modern Rome, as it was in London, Amsterdam or Berlin?

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A woman's lot. Women's participation in the public sphere in the late medieval and early modern Low Countries (1450-1650) by means of lottery-rhymes. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

"A Woman's Lot" investigates what women said in public and what was said about women in public in the late medieval and early modern Low Countries (1450-1650). It will analyse public statements by both women and men to see if this is truly a time in which women were pushed out of the public into the private domain, as many scholars maintain, and if perceptions of women changed during the time period. By using lottery-rhymes, short verses submitted by buyers of both genders from many different social groups that were read out on stage during lottery-draws, this project will avoid the pitfalls of earlier research on women in the public sphere, which mostly focused on: 1) women writers, who represent only women from the highest social groups; 2) subversive speech, instead of a wider range of topics; 3) women as the only category, without comparing them to men. The PhD-project will analyse the rhymes using a combination of distant and close reading in order to: 1) identify different types of female public statements and public statements about women and link these statements to gender, regional and income variables; 2) lay bare processes of stereotyping and self-definition; 3) examine the way in which these statements are linked with other texts; 4) verify whether these topics were subject to change throughout the period. Lastly, it aims to explain changes and/or constants over time, as well as differences along gender lines, region and income levels.

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Solidarity and religion in a modernizing and post-secular context: an historical, politico-philosophical and sociological analysis. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

Our project proceeds from the observation that the needs of those who fall victim to globalisation and welfare chauvinism are often addressed by faith-based organisations. These organisations do not sit easily in the current intellectual context, because social scientists are entrapped in old conceptions of solidarity, in which solidarity is seen as emanating from specific societal structures, rather than from a personal inner drive induced by a belief in god's presence and word. This is unfortunate because faith-based forms of solidarity can potentially lead to less calculated, more disinterested and less reciprocal forms of solidarity. In first instance, our project will therefor examine whether religious inspirations and faith-based practices could provide answers to some of the problems facing solidarity mechanisms today – particularly the need to look beyond the logic of the nation state. Specifically, we analyze the impact of religion on the way the community of givers and receivers is conceived. (RQ1) In order to avoid essentializing religions or denominations, we do so by concentrating on the relationship between faith-based motivations on the one hand and the secular and the modern or modernizing context on the other. In that respect, we also analyze to what extent the conception of the recipient was at odds with such 'modern' notions as natural rights and universal equality. (RQ2) In concrete terms, two projects in which faith-based forms of solidarity are empirically examined for two historically different contexts form the basis for a comparative approach to the question (1) whether proximity matters or networks stretching beyond the boundaries of the city or the state and (2) whether a sense of gratitude, dependence and paternalism was implied, or rather the emancipation and empowerment of the individual. Our methodological approach starts from the observation that the present-day social science scholar cannot be conceived as a neutral, objective and immutable observer. The analysis will by definition have a normative dimension, in which specific forms of solidarity are confronted with such broader political standards as human rights, democracy, fairness and justice (hence the involvement of political philosophy). Moreover, the ultimate outcome of the project will be conceptual and epistemological in that social science approaches to solidarity will themselves be transformed. To that end, a third subproject rethinks the concept of solidarity, based on the empirical analyses and the comparison of the two subprojects, in addition to interdisciplinary conceptual work. Overall, our project thus creates a hermeneutical feedback loop between social scientists and their subject matter (i.e. the views and attitudes of historical actors).

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Beyond the dots in TODs. Analysing Transit Oriented Development in networked rural-urban places. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Transit-oriented development (TOD) has come to great prominence within contemporary planning policies in Europe and North-America. As a model, it calls for an integration of transport and urban planning, forwarding public transport as the backbone for urban development in order to curtail sprawl while still facilitating today's mobile society. Yet, TOD research and practice are based on a normative approach dividing urban from rural qualities and preferring static radial-concentric models to dynamic network-urbanisation relations. Consequently, current TOD analysis and planning are limited to a radius around the station to be filled in with compact urban typologies and homogeneous densities. This normative frame leads to problematic, a-contextual analyses of, and interventions in, relations between rural-urban places and mobility. Beyond the dots in TODs will contribute to a sustainable planning approach in networked rural-urban places by developing an analytical frame focusing on dynamic relations instead of static modeling as well as producing knowledge on rural-urban places apt to work with hybridity instead of omitting it. More specifically, the research will analyse interactions between rail network development, commuting, and processes of rural-urban urbanisation in a long term perspective. The research project will develop a historical analysis of site-specific socio-spatial development in one of the most sprawled territories in Europe – Flanders – in order to further knowledge on heterogeneous and dynamic network-urbanisation relations, unravelling a reality that is far more complex than homogeneous density dots and circular growth models. By reconstructing relations between rail, commuting, and urbanisation, combining quantitative and qualitative methods from transport geography, urban planning and urban history, the project opens up ways for dynamic and place-specific planning strategies beyond current dots in TODs.

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Research team(s)

The Magic Lantern and its Cultural Impact as Visual Mass Medium in Belgium (1830-1940) (B-MAGIC) 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

This project will write the as yet unwritten history of the magic lantern as a mass medium in Belgium. In doing so, it will make an essential contribution to the study of the country's cultural history as well as to international media historiography. It aims to rediscover the various functions of the lantern performance within the Belgian public sphere, in particular, its use in the transmission and negotiation of knowledge, norms and values by different societal groups. Scientists and entertainers, teachers and priests, political movements and organizations: they all used projected visual narratives to inform, entertain, educate and mobilize audiences of up to more than a thousand people per occasion. The lantern was the first visual mass medium to contest the printed word as a primary mode of information and instruction. All layers of society, both literate and illiterate, received visual information about nature, religion, science, new technologies and foreign countries. The B-Magic consortium will research the pivotal role of the magic lantern in Belgian society from the country's independence (1830) up to 1940, when its use declined. To this end, it brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Performance Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, Urban History, History of Science and Knowledge, Communication Studies, Semiotics, and Narratology. B-Magic will produce the first comprehensive study of the role of the magic lantern as a mass medium in a country.

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Shedding light on product quality. The historical evolution of conventions for the quality of window glass, 15th to 19th century. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

The production of window glass has a long history of techniques (crown glass, cylinder glass, casted glass, …) and glass qualities (with more or less bubbles, colour, impurities,…) which did not inevitably lead to flawlessly transparent plain glass. The challenge is to understand the complexity of this evolution, which is important for both the history of material culture and the discipline of conservation-restoration. Our project proceeds from the assumption that studying glass quality solves key problems in conservation studies and the history of material culture alike, viz. 1° the bias towards conspicuous and artful objects and 2° narratives of modernity regarding the supposed shift from 'intrinsic value' to 'sign value'. Glass is a daily product without both intrinsic and (apparently) sign value and, thus, enables to assess other causal factors in the advent of modern consumer practices, such as relative prices, and technology. This requires a collaboration between historians and scholars familiar with the materiality and technicality of glass – which is available at the UADepartment of Conservation/Restoration. Methodologically, the collaboration enables to confront subjective qualities (consumer preferences) with objective qualities, such as the used ingredients and the production techniques. For the discipline of C/R this will result in more insight in the history of the choices made by both producers and consumers, and, hence, to more informed restoration practices.

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Fashioning 'old and new'. Secondary markets, commodity value conventions and the dawn of consumer societies in Western Europe (18th-19th centuries) 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Present-day policies to reinvigorate secondary markets and to reinforce the circular economy show a belief in societal progress through technological innovation and supply-side engineering. However, what is crucial in understanding our current 'throwaway'-attitudes – and any current-day policies shaping these – is a better knowledge of historically and culturally constructed demand-side issues, i.e. the formation of long-running consumer habits around commodities that were handled on secondary markets. The central ambition of this project is precisely to unravel the mental and cultural frameworks that shaped the desire and need for products on secondary markets in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Within this crucial timeframe, Northwestern Europe saw the dawn of present-day-consumer attitudes and habits in dealing with 'old' and 'discarded' belongings. This entailed: 1) The breakthrough of luxurious and specialized art and luxury auctions, eventually of antique dealers, while at the same time the 'low end' secondary markets suffered enormously from a relative deprivation and an increasing stress for novelty in society. 2) An anything but linear shifting balance between the cultural appreciation of 'new' and 'old' belongings, which, arguably, can be held responsible for this shift. Hitherto, however, secondary markets have been far too often studied in isolation from the first-hand markets. Surprisingly little is known about the deep cultural and mental frameworks in which consumer preferences and perceived product qualities were embedded, and how these transformed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Drawing on a rich, and hitherto largely unexplored corpus of newspaper advertisements for upcoming auctions of second-hand goods, this innovative project seeks to unravel precisely the changing commodity value conventions among the taste-making elites in society and their relationship with the emerging 'consumer societies' of the modern era. Moreover, through a careful analysis of the kind of persuasive descriptors that were used to describe auctioned goods (with adjectives such as 'curious', 'fine', 'elegant', etc.), it becomes possible to map the changing consumer mindsets and bundles of commodity characteristics through time, hence revealing underlying 'regimes of value'. The latter will be made possible through a new 'big-data' methodology. A thorough comparison of word and cultural embedding in time and place will help to unravel how consumer mentalities were entangled with changing product qualities. The case studies were carefully chosen to include the major fashion making metropolises of the period, as well as more modest provincial and commercial towns, all with a different social architecture.

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Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

The research program we propose asks three broad questions to inquire what drove economic development and how this in turn affected society: •How did humanly 'devised' institutions determine the growth or decline of the Roman economy ? How resilient was this institutional frame to stochastic shocks ? •Did the institutional framework change significantly in response to economic developments? •What was the role of ecological factors as geography, climate, or disease pools? Did nature-culture interactions sustain regional trajectories in the long term?

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Project website

CORN- Comparative Rural History Network 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

The CORN Scientific Network aims to set up in-depth scientific collaboration in the field of comparative rural history in Europe. For several decades, Flanders has occupied a key position in studying and coordinating rural history. As in previous CORN-projects, the present project again focuses on the last millennium: the period between the take-off of the European economy in the classic middle ages and today, linking up with current debates and problems. However, whereas previous CORN-networks focused geographically on the North Sea Area, it is now time to expand the CORN comparative collaboration to other parts of Europe. Over the coming years, CORN aims to launch an ambitious new collaborative research project, which is meant to renew European Rural History. For this reason, a 'central' theme has been selected which is currently at the heart of research in both history and other social sciences. The theme that has been chosen is inequality. A historical approach to inequality allows to contextualize inequality and its evolving meaning for different groups and rural regions. Furthermore, it allows to go beyond the level of 'national statistics' on aggregate evolutions of inequality and it allows to reveal and explain the mechanisms which drive inequality. This collaborative project aims to remedy this gap, bringing together the core-specialists of social and economic history of European rural societies. The researchers involved in this network, not only embrace a joint research theme, but also a joint methodology, which can be characterized as 'comparative', 'social' and 'institutional'. During a period of five years, researchers will explore the theme of rural inequalities along nine working groups. Each working group is coordinated by a member of the CORN-steering committee. The UAntwerp team coordinates the theme "Urban Agriculture in European History: a Social Perspective"

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Past projects

BOF Expatriation allowance VLIR Scientific Chair Van Dijck 2020 - Stad en stedelijkheid in de Lage Landen. 12/03/2020 - 26/07/2020

Abstract

This lecture course will offer a survey of the long-term urban history of the Low Countries. Central questions in this course revolve around the nature, causes and consequences of the precocious and intense processes of urbanization in this region of N-W Europe. No other characteristic has been as typical and quintessential to define the nature of the Low Countries as the size of the urban network and the dominance of cities and towns. We will focus on several important questions of historical interpretation and inquiry, including the resilience of urban networks, the modernity of the urban economy, the broader meaning of urban revolts, the character and limitations of religious tolerance in cities, the continuous persistence of urban art and luxury markets, as well as the main determinants of communal living in cities

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Project website

Digital Heritage for Smart Regions (Time Machine). Test-case: Herentals and the Kleine Nete. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

How can we unlock the Wisdom of the Past to answer spatial challenges today? The Digital Revolution is producing massive amounts of digital and digitized historical and archaeological data, which can be located with different degrees of precision in the landscape. Once integrated in a Geographical Information System (GIS), these data can be turned into a digital 'Time Machine'. In this project, funded by the Province of Antwerp, and framed in the scientific collaboration between the Province and the University of Antwerp, we test the potential of Time Machine technologies on the Herentals-Kleine Nete region, more specifically adressing the question of the historical land-use and water management of the river wetlands along the river Kleine Nete. If successfull, the project will result in A) an integrated methodology for the use of digital and digitized data in landscape history and archaeolgy; B) new insights in the history and evolution of valuable river wetlands and C) suggestions for the valorization of this knowledge in ecosystem management, tourism, agriculture and landscape development.

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Using institutional household accounts and the insights they provide to understand the consumption patterns, the standard of living and consumption inequality in early modern Delft. 01/09/2019 - 28/02/2020

Abstract

Merit Hondelink gaat in archeologische afvalcontexten (beerputten) op zoek naar archeobotanische vondsten die een complementair inzicht geven in de stedelijke voedselbevoorrading, voedselbereiding en -consumptie. Voor haar onderzoek kijkt ze naar vroegmoderne beerputten uit Delft. Een belangrijk aspect van haar proefschrift bestaat echter in de kruising van deze analyses met historische data omtrent huishoudelijke consumptie. Veel beter dan inkomens- en vermogensongelijkheid, verschaft de consumptieongelijkheid een inzicht in de gevolgen (maar ook tot op zekere hoogte oorzaken) van sociale ongelijkheid. Voor haar onderzoek in Antwerpen zal zij werken met institutionele huishoudrekeningen die een inzicht geven in verbruikspatronen, levensstandaard en reële sociale ongelijkheid. Concrete voorbeelden van beschikbare rekeningen zijn die van het Oude Mannenhuis en het Begijnhof, evenals documenten van het Clarissenklooster en het Klooster van St. Ursula. Van deze vier instellingen zijn ook archeologische rapporten beschikbaar, waardoor de rekeningen met het archeobotanisch onderzoek vergeleken kunnen worden. De rekeningen van het Oude Vrouwenhuis, het Meisjeshuis en de Weeskamer kunnen dienst doen voor een verdiepend onderzoek en een vergelijking met de rekeningen van het Oude Mannenhuis. Dankzij het eerdere werk van Thera Wijsenbeek-Olthuis beschikken we voor Delft ook over een unieke databank van boedelbeschrijvingen waardoor een heuristisch multi-dimensioneel verbruiksmodel verkregen kan worden. Het interpreteren van de data, de uitwerking ervan en het schrijven van het artikel dat wordt opgenomen in het proefschrift, geschiedt onder begeleiding van Prof.dr. B. Blondé. Aansluitend zal tijdens het verblijf van Merit Hondelink, mits gehonoreerd, een college voor Bachelor 3-scriptie worden opgezet. Dit is een unieke kans om de studenten Geschiedenis een multidisciplinaire praktijkervaring mee te geven.

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Antwerp in the Renaissance. 09/04/2019 - 08/04/2020

Abstract

This book is the result of a long-term project in which we challenged various researchers to reflect on the relationship between Antwerp and the Renaissance. Since that exercise was not always possible, especially since not all relevant themes could be covered with innovative contributions, we finally decided - also on the indication of the reviewers, cf. infra- renaming the work Antwerp in the Renaissance. This does not alter the fact that this has become a beautiful book project with various innovative contributions around the Antwerp Golden Age. The manuscript has since been accepted by the series of editors and we hope it will be available at the prestigious European Association of Urban Historians Conference, which will be organized at the University of Antwerp in 2020.

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Big Data of the Past for the Future of Europe (Time Machine). 01/03/2019 - 29/02/2020

Abstract

Europe urgently needs to restore and intensify its engagement with its past. Time Machine will give Europe the technology to strengthen its identity against globalisation, populism and increased social exclusion, by turning its history and cultural heritage into a living resource for co-creating its future. The Large Scale Research Initiative (LSRI) will develop a large-scale digitisation and computing infrastructure mapping millennia of European historical and geographical evolution, transforming kilometres of archives, large collections from museums and libraries, and geohistorical datasets into a distributed digital information system. To succeed, a series of fundamental breakthroughs are targeted in Artificial Intelligence and ICT, making Europe the leader in the extraction and analysis of Big Data of the Past. Time Machine will drive Social Sciences and Humanities toward larger problems, allowing new interpretative models to be built on a superior scale. It will bring a new era of open access to sources, where past and on-going research are open science. This constant flux of knowledge will have a profound effect on education, encouraging reflection on long trends and sharpening critical thinking, and will act as an economic motor for new professions, services and products, impacting key sectors of European economy, including ICT, creative industries and tourism, the development of Smart Cities and land use. The CSA will develop a full LSRI proposal around the Time Machine vision. Detailed roadmaps will be prepared, organised around science and technology, operational principles and infrastructure, exploitation avenues and framework conditions. A dissemination programme aims to further strengthen the rapidly growing ecosystem, currently counting 95 research institutions, most prestigious European cultural heritage associations, large enterprises and innovative SMEs, influential business and civil society associations, and international and national institutional bodies.

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The pre-industrial transformation of boys' labour. From learning through apprenticeships to being employed as an unskilled, cheap workforce? (1550 – 1800). 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

This project will challenge and add to the knowledge of child labour by determining how the logics behind sending children to the labour market in the Southern Netherlands (more specifically Ghent and Antwerp) changed between the 16th and late 18th century. In doing so, it will determine how mentalities and practises on children's education and labour transformed in urban societies and will shed light on children of learning and working age as a social group. It is generally assumed that the increasingly mechanised manufacturing of the 18th century introduced a new type of child labour that was characterised by an enormous increase in the number of children who were working as cheap, unskilled labourers without better prospects for the future. This type of pure child labour is often sketched in stark contrast to skilled child labour through apprenticeship, as was common in the pre-industrial period. I will analyse whether apprenticeships and pure child labour are not two separate phenomena but that the latter may have been the result of a long-term transformation of the apprenticeship. My project starts from the hypothesis that the moral economy of child labour, represented by the apprenticeship, transformed and eroded throughout the early modern period. It will be examined how, why and when the logic of learning was embodied in the apprenticeship system transformed into an economic logic of cheap child labour. My project will analyse the transitional period between both types of child labour in order to qualify the dominant assumption that the logics behind sending children to the labour market fundamentally changed in the 18th century, with the breakthrough of industrialisation as the main agent of change. However, my recent research suggests that fundamental changes in the objectives of apprenticeship already occurred in the 16th century. I will determine both how the mental framework surrounding this transition changed and how institutional, political, cultural or religious agents of change of the local urban context were influential in this transformation.

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The rise of free trade in comparative perspective. 01/09/2018 - 31/05/2019

Abstract

Free trade developed in the nineteenth century as an ideology and controversial political issue. My research highlights the rise of free trade as such in midcentury in several countries, including Great Britain, France, and Belgium. In all these countries free trade associations formed during the 1840s and agitated on behalf of the liberalization of international trade, developed and maintained connections with one another, and pursued an internationalist vision of strong ties binding European nations to one another in economic cooperation. My research at the University of Antwerp will focus on Belgium's position in these debates, its internal debates about trade policy, and the activities of its free traders, giving special attention to the international Congress of Economists organized by the Association belge pour la liberté commerciale and held in Brussels in 1847. This research fits into my larger dissertation project, which seeks to identify the key tenets of free trade ideology in the mid-nineteenth century, examine the processes by which free trade associations formed and the demographics of their membership, follow the debates in the press and in parliaments regarding free trade, and finally appreciate the ways that the discourse surrounding free trade changed throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth (and implicitly how this discourse compares to that of the twenty-first century).

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Time Thrift? Measuring the impact of the Industrial revolution on time awareness in Belgium (1830-1914). 01/04/2018 - 31/03/2019

Abstract

How did the Industrial Revolution reshape everyday time use and consciousness in the long nineteenth century? Even though this question has unleashed some heated debates in the last decades, conclusive emipirical evidence is still largely missing. In this project we tap the potential of police reports (the procès-verbaux) in three Belgian cities (Antwerp, Ghent, and Liège) to trace some long-term developments in time awareness/management and to tease out the (hypothetical) relation with the Industrial Revolution.

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Back to the Future: future expectations in the Low Countries, 1400-1600. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

Back to the Future investigates future expectations in the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Low Countries. The analysis of the semantics and the contents of written future statements will verify whether the future began to be perceived as open and uncertain, and if an assumed transition to modernity caused by the rise of capitalism and changes in beliefs took place. This project goes beyond the current research which focused on: 1) the revolutionary eighteenth century; 2) the learned texts written by the intelligentsia; 3) singular accounts of the future: divination, magic and the eschatological end of times, without looking into their interplay with other types of future expectations (for example, more short term or secular expectations). This project draws on a large source collection of merchant correspondence. These letters will be digitized, future statements will be selected and entered into a database which will include variables about the semantics and future horizons of these expressions, the identities of the authors, and the actions motivated by the future expectation. The project has three key outcomes: 1) a fuller understanding of people's perception of the future and how they framed it; 2) it can be (dis)proven whether a shift in thoughts and beliefs about the future did occur and whether this is in line with narratives of modernity and the rise of capitalism; 3) a new methodology based on the integration of economic, social and cultural history and historical sociolinguistics.

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Old vs. new media: handwritten newsletters in the first age of the printed newspaper 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

This project investigates the co-existence of old and new media in the pre-modern age. To understand how old and new communication technology shaped societies in the past is particularly relevant given current debates on the societal impact of digital technology and new social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. This project studies how and why handwritten newsletters continued to exist alongside printed newspapers in the seventeenthcentury Dutch Republic, Habsburg Netherlands and France. Before the birth of the printed newspaper, handwritten news-sheets copied by professional scribes were essential in reporting current-affairs. Scholars generally describe these handwritten newsletters as mere predecessors of the printed newspaper and assume they were quickly replaced by their printed counterparts. This project counters this persistent historical narrative by analysing the mutual influence of manuscript and printed newspaper at a moment when their impact on politics and society was not yet firmly established. It is the first in-depth study to specifically consider their role within the wider changing media landscape of the seventeenth century. The project will provide an interconnected history of communication across linguistic, technological, and political boundaries, and shed new light on the impact of new communication technologies on politics and society.

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A golden age for labour? Economic inequality and labour income after the Black Death: Flanders and Tuscany compared (1350-1500). 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

Did the Black Death result in a golden age for labour? Killing almost one third of the population, the mortality crisis caused a radical change in the relative value of land, capital and labour. Indeed, no other time before Industrialisation would witness such a rapid increase in real wages. Consequently, generations of historians have characterised the period between 1350 and 1500 as a golden age for labour. However, recent literature on pre-modern income formation casts serious doubts on such a straightforward interpretation. The real wage series, on which the theory is based, are hardly representative for real income levels and ever since the 1970's-1980's no new approaches to this problem have been developed. This research project, therefore, introduces a creative solution that will allow us to retrace the impact of the Black Death on income distribution. On the one hand, the narrow focus of the real wage series is replaced with a socially more diversified framework, including the gains of self-employed middle groups. On the other hand, a comparative perspective between Flanders and Tuscany will question the universal effects of the mortality crisis, and instead highlight the role of regional and intraregional economic and institutional divergences. As a result, this research project will lead to a critical rethinking of the longstanding paradigm of a golden age for labour.

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The impact of "degrowth" and market economies on welfare and sustainability: a historical exploration. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

Growth used to be seen as a precondition for welfare and sustainability, but this consensus is criticised by the degrowth movement. Degrowth is defined as a paradigm shift towards nonaccumulation, sharing economies and commons. Degrowth does not refer to slow or absent growth in market economies. The movement claims that non-market economies without accumulation strategies are more capable of sustaining high average income levels and sustainable environments in the long run. This goes against the grain of the dominant paradigm that sees growth as a precondition for welfare and a green economy. I will introduce the degrowth hypothesis into historical research and analyse the long term welfare and sustainability levels of two different types of societies: market economies, where production factors were allocated predominantly through the market, and historical degrowth societies, characterised by non-accumulation, market independence, commons and sharing economies. To establish the connections between degrowth or market economies and levels of welfare and sustainability, this project will investigate and compare four historical societies, two degrowth societies (The Campine and Drenthe) and two pre-modern market economies (Western Zeeland Flanders and Groninger Ommelanden). They will be analysed from a long-term perspective, to test which type of society was able to sustain high levels of welfare and environmental resilience over the long term and under which circumstances

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Research team(s)

BOF Sabbatical Leave - Pierre Delsaerdt. 15/09/2017 - 15/07/2018

Abstract

The aim of this sabbatical leave is to do research on the 'patrimonialisation' of the book in the Southern Low Countries during the revolutionary years 1790–1830. Research will focus on two case studies: (1) the considerable transfer of books from monastic libraries towards Parisian depots such as the Bibliothèque nationale during the French regime in the Southern Low Countries; (2) the preservation of heritage documents that had been collected by the abbey of Tongerlo and that were bought by the Dutch King William I in 1827, in order to deposit them in the Royal Library in The Hague. These case studies are complementary, both chronologically and geographically. The research objectives are: 1. To identify and describe the (often hidden) provenance of substantial quantities of literary and scientific heritage documents from the Southern Low Countries in foreign (French and Dutch) libraries. 2. To analyse the ways in which new owners appropriated these books, e.g. by having them rebound, by adding new provenance marks and/or by removing earlier ones. 3. To interpret the authorities' discourse behind the transfer of books and to look at the ways in which the previous owners of the books reacted to it. Guiding questions are concerned with the following phenomena: 1. Patrimonialisation: which types of documents were granted 'heritage value', and how was this motivated? 2. Institutionalization: how did authorities substantiate their commitment to the preservation of literary and scientific 'book heritage', and how did they understand the responsibilities of 'national' libraries in this context? 3. Centralization vs. periphery: can the actions mentioned above be interpreted as cases of transfer of cultural goods from the periphery (Tongerlo, the Southern Low Countries) towards centres (a metropolis, The Hague, Paris), and if so, how explicitely is this argument used in the documents that resulted from these transfers?

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Research team(s)

From nation-building to European integration. The role of the railway network in the social and territorial integration of Europe (1850 – 2017). 01/09/2017 - 31/08/2019

Abstract

The main goal of the project is to evaluate the historical collaboration that has taken place between states on projects associated with European Integration since the 19th century. This project stresses the need for a European scope and the benefits of adopting international views in research and education.

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Research team(s)

Doel, polder village. Its inhabitants and built environment since 1600. 03/07/2017 - 28/06/2021

Abstract

Doel is a rural settlement in the Waasland polder Area north of Antwerp, dating back in its present form to the early 17th century, but with possible continuity of settlement to the 16th century or even the late medieval period. For a long time it was a rather isolated settlement, surrounded by the Scheldt Estuary and flooded polders. Furthermore, uncertainty with regard to its future (given the potential expansion of the Antwerp harbour) impeded or slowed down the rapid landscape and settlement transformation characteristic for the Flemish - and much of the European - countryside since the end of World War II. As such Doel is the ideal case to investigate the long-term interaction between population and the material landscape of the village. Historical evolutions in social topography, the functional synergy between the village centre and the farming society surrounding it; family structures and community life, will be linked to changes in the built environment; the material culture of houses, professional activities and communal infrastructure; building activities etc. Through its integrated approach of the social history of the village centre and the built environment, this PhD-project aims to set a new standard in the study of rural heritage, the results of which might be highly important for future developments in the field of rural heritage research and policy, both in Doel, Flanders and internationally.

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Research team(s)

Lord, give me the first prize! Fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Low Countries lottery poems as the voice of the people. 01/04/2017 - 31/03/2018

Abstract

In this project the applicant together with a group of students (in history, with sufficient paleographic skills) will transcribe thousands of so-called lottery poems – poems which were read out loud during the draw of the lottery and which were intended to identify those who acquired lottery tickets – from the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Low Countries and enter those poems into a database and tag them with a number of other data fields. This project is the first systematic analysis of this genre. It is especially relevant since the poems can inform us on societal issues and were constructed by "ordinary" (and not the usual elite) men and women, including those who could not read or write themselves. Eventually this research project will produce a large and full-text searchable corpus of sources which can be used by others for historical and literary research.

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Research team(s)

Buying more with less income? Household production and changing consumer preferences in the smallholding economy of inland Flanders during the 18th century in the light of the Industrious Revolution debate. 01/04/2017 - 31/03/2018

Abstract

In social and economic history, scholars, who investigated the evolution of living conditions of early modern country dwellers, faced major difficulties to combine consumption-oriented and production-oriented approaches. The optimistic strand of research stressed the increasing ability of rural households in the course of the 18th century to acquire of new consumer goods by working harder and more (i.e. a Consumer Revolution made possible by an Industrious Revolution), whereas the pessimistic one focussed on high levels of surplus extraction with which rural households were increasingly confronted so that they had to intensify their arable and proto-industrial production in order to maintain their survival algorithms or profit margins (according to the family's income level). This project aims to combine both viewpoints by comparing consumption patterns with the production strategies of a broad variety of rural households (from smallholders to large farmers) within the intensive Flemish Husbandry region during the 18th century. Our hypotheses are that (1) prices of new consumer goods declined so that they gradually became affordable for lower income groups and that (2) the dissemination of these goods was top-down from village worthies and well-to-do farmers onto the smallholding majority of the rural community. As such, this project aims to reveal whether or not the premodern trajectories of commercialisation and the related economic growth contributed to better living conditions of the majority of the population in the countryside.

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Research team(s)

Economic growth and material living standards in a transistion economy: Venice (1600-1800). 01/02/2017 - 31/07/2017

Abstract

In recent decades the debate on the relationship between economic growth and material wellbeing was at the heart of the 'Revolt of the Early Modernists' (Jan de Vries). Unfortunately enough, studies on the birth of a consumer society in the late early modern period focused upon North-Western European countries, while the material renaissance research prioritized the Italian peninsula (Blonde & Ryckbosch). The purpose of this project is to fundamentally contribute to our understanding of the 'little divergence' by studying the material wellbeing and consumer practices in Mediterranean Europe. The case study envisaged is Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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Research team(s)

Questioning water modernity. A GIS-approach to the privatization and resilience of common drinking water systems in 16th- and 19thcentury cities, test-case: Antwerp. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

This project has the ambition of developing a bottom-up social and spatial approach to the privatization of urban drinking water in 18th- and 19th-century cities. Such approach would not be possible without a micro-level GIS, enabling us to follow private, public or common access to drinking water, its use and users on the level of the household. For 18th- and 19th-century Antwerp the GIStorical Antwerp project (UA-Hercules) offers such infrastructure. At this stage in its development, GIStorical Antwerp offers spatial information on each plot for 1830- 1880 based on cadastral data, with extension into the 18th century and up to 1900 scheduled for next year. Data gathered in this dissertation can hence be framed and analysed using year to year digital maps of the city, and integrated with available data on house ownership, commerce and industry. Thus, micro-level spatial analysis will form the core methodology, an approach that can - quite literally - open doors, analysing changes in, and blurring boundaries between, private, public and common space.

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Research team(s)

Women's fortunes. Female agency, property and investment in the urban space of late medieval Brabant. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

In the Late Middle Ages the social position of women underwent major transitions. However, until today historians fail to agree on the nature of these changes. On the one hand, scholars argue that possibilities for women waned, while on the other hand, others maintain that the period was a 'golden age' in terms of women's opportunities. Far too often these debates tend to revolve around women's labour, rather than around other economic activities, such as women's property investment, and the motives surrounding their actions. To grasp fully the fundamental changes in women's status, this project proposes a social analysis of gender relations and income strategies. For this purpose, the project studies how women and men invested their property and material belongings in urban society, and, most important, how this changed over the course of the fifteenth century. This will include an examination of both how gender relations influenced these patterns, and how these patterns were affected by the differences among women, in terms of their marital, social and economic status. A comparative analysis of the aldermen's registers of two cities with different characteristics, Leuven and Antwerp, will bring social and economic structures to the fore of the research. By focusing on sample years, the project will study all deeds containing information on the financial strategies of private persons, thereby contributing a new perspective on the changing status of late medieval women.

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Research team(s)

The pre-industrial transformation of child labour. From learning through apprenticeships to being employed as an unskilled, cheap workforce (1550 – 1800). 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

This project will challenge and add to the knowledge of child labour by determining how the logics behind sending children to the labour market in the Southern Netherlands (more specifically Ghent and Antwerp) changed between the 16th and late 18th century. In doing so, it will determine how mentalities and practises on children's education and labour transformed in urban societies and will shed light on children of learning and working age as a social group. It is generally assumed that the increasingly mechanised manufacturing of the 18th century introduced a new type of child labour that was characterised by an enormous increase in the number of children who were working as cheap, unskilled labourers without better prospects for the future. This type of pure child labour is often sketched in stark contrast to skilled child labour through apprenticeship, as was common in the pre-industrial period. I will analyse whether apprenticeships and pure child labour are not two separate phenomena but that the latter may have been the result of a long-term transformation of the apprenticeship. My project starts from the hypothesis that the moral economy of child labour, represented by the apprenticeship, transformed and eroded throughout the early modern period. It will be examined how, why and when the logic of learning was embodied in the apprenticeship system transformed into an economic logic of cheap child labour. My project will analyse the transitional period between both types of child labour in order to qualify the dominant assumption that the logics behind sending children to the labour market fundamentally changed in the 18th century, with the breakthrough of industrialisation as the main agent of change. However, my recent research suggests that fundamental changes in the objectives of apprenticeship already occurred in the 16th century. I will determine both how the mental framework surrounding this transition changed and how institutional, political, cultural or religious agents of change of the local urban context were influential in this transformation.

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Research team(s)

The Resilience of Urban Agriculture in Industrialising Societies: a social-agrosystemic approach applied on 19th-century Belgium. 01/10/2016 - 28/02/2018

Abstract

Urban agriculture in periods of rapid urban growth is confronted with the encroachment of urban open space, but also with more mouths to be fed. Previous studies could not explain why urban agriculture disappeared in some areas and survived in others, because they either focused on one aspect of it (like market gardening) or studied only one city and ignored household economics. My hypothesis is that a fuller understanding of urban agriculture can only be obtained by accounting for the social organisation of urban food production. Therefore, I propose the analytic tool of 'Social Urban-Agricultural Systems' (SUAS), in which income strategies of different categories of urban food producers in correspondence to several macro-conditions, determined the resilience of urban agriculture in a particular urban context. 19th-century Belgium as the first industrialising country on the Continent is an ideal case to study urban food production strategies in different types of cities. The SUAS-concept will be tested by scrutinising the impact of macro-conditions (access to land, size and shape of a city, a city's economic orientation, type of nearby agro-system, transport improvements and market access) at country-level (based on census data), and further clarified by a micro-investigation at household level (by probate inventories in sample years and cities) to explain how different configurations of urban food production answered the challenges and opportunities of urban growth. -

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The ways to Success. Strategies and Trajectories of the Commercial elites in the Low Countries in the Long Sixteenth Century. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

Historians have long believed that the ultimate goal for well-to-do bourgeois elites in the sixteenth century was to obtain a noble title. According to the theory, they eventually became concerned about preserving their social status and started investing in ways to become noble, like the formation of landed estates or assimilation with the Second Estate. Recently the debate about this 'treason of the bourgeoisie' has been reopened and the theory has received criticism, especially in the Low Countries. Historians have shown that the markers associated with this trajectory can be interpreted in other ways, but it still seems that the whole literature about social ascent is dominated by the 'success' of a few families that did follow the treason-trajectory. Consequently, the circular reasoning of the theory has never been revised: the "success" stories are viewed as the ideal for all the commercial elites. It is just as likely however, that social success in the Low Countries was achieved in other ways by following other strategies. This has never been thoroughly and empirically tested, however. The goal of this project is to identify the ways in which mercantile elites in the Low Countries followed trajectories towards social success or failure, without using the treason theory as an ideal-type. By studying a representative group of commercial elites, this project aims to give a better understanding of these trajectories towards social success or failure.

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Research team(s)

Research about the Calvinist Republic in Antwerp (1577-1585). 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

The Calvinist Republic in Antwerp (1577-1585) was a short although a crucial phase in the Dutch Revolt. In these years, Antwerp was the political and financial capital of the Revolt and at the same time a center of Protestantism of international importance. The central question we try to answer in this book project is how a Calvinist minority succeeded to dominate the city of Antwerp - a commercial metropolis harboring between 80,000 and 100,000 inhabitants. The answer to this question is complex and involves political, religious and social elements which were closely interwoven.

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Research team(s)

GIStorical Antwerp II. The historical city as empirical lab for urban studies using high-resolution social maps. 01/05/2016 - 30/04/2020

Abstract

In a time of rapid urbanization solid long-term perspectives on the many environmental, social, economic or political challenges of urbanity are urgently needed. Uniting urban history, sociology, environmental studies and digital humanities, GIStorical Antwerp II turns the historical city into a digital lab which provides an answer to this need. For 8 snapshots between 1584 and 1984 it offers dynamic social maps including every household in the entire city of Antwerp. Construction combines innovative ways of crowd-sourcing and time-efficient spatial and text-mining methodologies (Linear Referencing, Named Entity Recognition). The result is a GIS-environment which not only allows a micro-level view of 500 years of urban development, but more importantly allows an immediate spatial and social contextualization of a sheer unlimited number of other datasets, both those realized through 30 years of research on Antwerp and the mass of structured and unstructured digital 'big data'. For both the applicants and the international research community a completely new type of longitudinal research on urban inequalities – from income over housing quality to pollution – becomes feasible.

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Research team(s)

Solidarity in Diversity: Community, place-making and citizenship 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

This scientific research network will stimulate inter-disciplinary and cross-national dialogue around the appropriate theoretical and methodological tools to study innovative forms of solidarity in diversity. On the one hand, we will critically question the 'loss of community argument' by re-examining the potential of classical sociological theories to come up with alternative sources of solidarity in diversity and by exploring how cultural differences can be bridged through democratic learning, community building and pedagogical interventions. On the other hand, we will investigate a more dynamic understanding of 'citizenship as practice' and the related importance of places as sites for the everyday negotiation of diverse subjects' claims.

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Research team(s)

Shock cities. Food Prices and Access to Food in Flemish Cities during the Age of Shocks (1280-1370). 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

Overcrowded, with their famous textile industries in a slump, and the political climate highly unstable, the Flemish cities around 1280 seemed particularly vulnerable for the many shocks – Famine, War and Plague - which like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse haunted much of Europe in the following century. And yet, the expected 'positive check' of population did not arrive, or at least not as pronounced as one would expect based on Malthusian predictions about the relationship between population growth, food production and crisis. Were Flemish cities able to limit their vulnerability to food shocks? And if so, how did they manage to do so? In this project, the volatility of food prices during 'food shocks' will be used to investigate the capacity of major Flemish cities to overcome problems in food supplies. With every shock prices of basic food stuffs risked to explode, creating uncertainty and panic. For the first time combining the rich price evidence available in the accounts from urban hospitals and other institutions in five major Flemish cities with a very different access to food (Bruges, Douai, Lille, Cambrai and Ghent), we can assess the differential impact of war, harvest failure and plague, and investigate whether food shocks were overcome via specialisation or diversification of agricultural production in the hinterland, via access to long- distance food trade, via coercive or inclusive urban politics, or… not at all.

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Research team(s)

Managing the Crisis? The Resilience of Local Networks and Institutions within the Low Countries during the Napoleonic Period 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

Wars and crises have profound destabilizing effects on societies. Nevertheless, most communities continue to function. How, and to what extent they are able to do so, depends upon the resilience of local institutions and networks above all. This project investigates the ability of the merchant communities to survive the Napoleonic wars through a comparative study of the flexibility of their networks in the Northern and Southern Netherlands. Our central hypothesis is that networks were more rigid in the north than in the south, whereas the impact was also larger because of the dominance of Amsterdam's maritime networks throughout. In-depth studies for Rotterdam, Antwerp, Twente and Ostend will reveal how local institutions interacted with central regulations and how divergent mechanisms arose among the merchant communities.

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Research team(s)

Domestic energy consumption before and during the early industrial revolution: Belgium and the Netherlands compared (1600-1850). 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

Why did the Northern Low Countries ('the Netherlands') experience early modern economic growth, but no industrialization until the late nineteenth century? And why, by contrast, did the Southern Low Countries ('Belgium') turn into the first industrialized region outside of Britain after experiencing centuries of relative economic stagnation and decline? (Mokyr 1976) This research project aims to evaluate the role of the transition from a 'organic' to a 'mineral' energy base (E.A. Wrigley) in the domestic sphere as a potential explanatory factor in these divergent paths of development. By studying the energy sources, technologies, practices, and mentalities related to the heating and illumination of early modern homes over time and in a comparative perspective, this project aims to shed light on the energy-intensity and –efficiency of households in Belgium and the Netherlands prior to industrialization. Not only is this research of primary importance in gaining a better understanding of the first Industrial Revolution on the European continent, it also promises insight into the roots of energy transitions both past and future.

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Research team(s)

Maria Matthijssens and Louis Gobbaerts: the history and role of salon music in Antwerp's bourgeois culture (1848-1914). 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

This research project explores the history and role of salon music within Antwerp's bourgeois culture during the period 1848-1914. This once popular, but now largely neglected repertoire reveals a lot about the material, organisational, sociological and economic aspects of the music industry around that time. This music-historical and artistic research is carried out through the life and works of two Antwerp composers: Louis Gobbaerts and Maria Matthijssens.

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Research team(s)

The landscape of ecological infrastructure. A historical-theoretical reflection on technonatural intervention as design strategy. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

Recent literature in ecological urbanism shows that design strategies are increasingly combining infrastructural design with ecological interventions to address an imminent ecological crisis within the context of accelerating urbanization. Merging technological function with natural structures, the design of these ecological infrastructures centers on sophisticated data collecting, rather than responding to socio-political demands or taking inspiration from historical precedents. Political ecology, on the other hand, mainly focuses on the socio-political effects of technonatural intervention, or in-/exclusion of social actors in the planning process, while paying limited attention to the design of ecological infrastructure and the inscribed spatial motives. By delving into 'historical precedents', in which ecological infrastructures were conceived as mode of urban design, the research will add a design perspective to political ecology as well as socio-political context to urban design discourse. Recent design culture will be analyzed vis-à-vis historical concepts that dealt with technology and environmental control within a context of uncertainty and rapid change. Besides the innovative methodology linking past, present and future projection in a way that contributes to both history and current urban theory, as well as to design practice, the project has a decidedly interdisciplinary focus. In addition to tying together the disciplines of ecological urbanism and political ecology in a timely bind breaking new ground, on a broader level, the project relates technology, space and society, and with that the domains of urban history, urbanism, planning, engineering, political geography and Science Technology and Society studies (STS) as it traces sociospatial motives inscribed in technonatural projects.

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Research team(s)

Outside-City: the 'suburban character' as accomplishment of place distinction (case: Antwerp, c.1860-c.1940). 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

This project questions how and why places come to be the way they are, and how this matters for society over time. Elaborating on sociology of place and actor-network conceptualisations, we will analyse seven comparable suburbs around Antwerp (Wijnegem, Wommelgem, Borsbeek, Mortsel, Edegem, Wilrijk and Hoboken) to determine how and why a multitude of elements conjoin for certain reasons to create a particular sense of place or 'surburban character' at a given moment in history. Next, we question how such suburban distinctiveness becomes structured and is adapted through time in path-dependent ways. We will research these questions empirically between c.1860-c.1940 by making use of historical data and sources reflecting macro, meso and micro levels of society.

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Research team(s)

The 'horizontal city' in the middle ages. Suburban settlement in the Southern Low Countries (late 15th-16th century). 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

This project will study suburban areas in the surroundings of three towns in the Southern Low Countries from ca. 1490 to 1585 (Antwerp, Oudenaarde and Bruges). It will examine the resilience of suburban areas, the economic and social organization of suburban societies and it will reveal whether suburban settlement developed a proper social identity.

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Research team(s)

Creating a Domestic City? The Production and Consumption of Domestic Space in Late Medieval Bruges, Dijon and Antwerp, 1450- 1600. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

The main objective of this project is to look beyond the public appearance of men and women in late-medieval cities. While the past two decades historical interest in the 'public' urban spaces has figured high on the research agenda, scholars have refrained from interrogating the complex ways people appropriated and arranged their own domestic space. Hence, there is an urgent need to define and redefine the ways in which city dwellers shaped their home, an entity that needs to be approached as both physical and ideological in essence (Lefebvre 1974).

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Research team(s)

A golden age for labour? Economic inequality and labour income after the Black Death: Flanders and Tuscany compared (1350-1500). 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

Did the Black Death result in a golden age for labour? Killing almost one third of the population, the mortality crisis caused a radical change in the relative value of land, capital and labour. Indeed, no other time before Industrialisation would witness such a rapid increase in real wages. Consequently, generations of historians have characterised the period between 1350 and 1500 as a golden age for labour. However, recent literature on pre-modern income formation casts serious doubts on such a straightforward interpretation. The real wage series, on which the theory is based, are hardly representative for real income levels and ever since the 1970's-1980's no new approaches to this problem have been developed. This research project, therefore, introduces a creative solution that will allow us to retrace the impact of the Black Death on income distribution. On the one hand, the narrow focus of the real wage series is replaced with a socially more diversified framework, including the gains of self-employed middle groups. On the other hand, a comparative perspective between Flanders and Tuscany will question the universal effects of the mortality crisis, and instead highlight the role of regional and intraregional economic and institutional divergences. As a result, this research project will lead to a critical rethinking of the longstanding paradigm of a golden age for labour.

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Research team(s)

Monography "Europe within Reach: Netherlandish Travellers on the Grand Tour and Beyond (1585-1750)" 01/04/2015 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

This project represents a research contract awarded by the University of Antwerp. The supervisor provides the Antwerp University research mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions stipulated by the university.

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Research team(s)

Perceiving the economic future in the past: analysis of European mercantile correspondence, 1400-1800 01/02/2015 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

This project will analyze perceptions and expectations of the future formulated in published and OCR-scanned letters of European merchants in the period 1400 to 1800. The research seeks insight in long-run developments and changes in thinking about the future by historical actors. In this sense, the project wants to add a new, cultural factor to the history of the development of capitalism: the temporal order of capitalism.

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Research team(s)

Urban studies. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

This project represents a research contract awarded by the University of Antwerp. The supervisor provides the Antwerp University research mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions stipulated by the university.

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Research team(s)

The economics of court life. The interaction of court and the city in the late medieval and early modern Low Countries. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

The process of state formation across the late medieval and early modern period was characterized not only by the growth of state institutions, the immediate environment of the prince also became more important as courts yielded more political influence. The economic impact of court life has, however, received only scarce attention. The so-called "capital city-effect" led to concentrations of wealthy consumers in the capital cities of the European states. Demand and supply were concentrated, stimulating the rise of primate cities in the urban network. This proposal wants, for the first time, 1° to measure the real impact court demand (+the aggregated demand of courtiers) played on capital city-effects, 2° to investigate how in the densely urbanized Low Countries court and elite demand generated patterns of meeting this demand, leading to specific market effects and patterns of luxury production, and 3° look at how changing patterns of elite demand influenced opportunities for merchants and craftsmen. For sample periods, from the 14th to the early 17th century, it wants to assess how court demand interacted with the urban economies which increasingly geared towards the supply of services and commodities that demanded higher levels of skill and specialisation. It wants to investigate how the rise of court demand interacted with the social organisation of cities, with the growing role of middling groups of specialist and (guild organised) urban craftsmen and retailers.

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Research team(s)

Gender, migration and distance. Maidservants as agents of change in the democratization of long-distance migration: a comparative case study of international migration by men and women to Brussels and Antwerp, 1850-1900. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

This project aims to investigate the role of female domestic servants in the democratisation of long distance migration by means of a comparative study of the trajectories and networks of male and female foreign newcomers to Antwerp and Brussels in 1850-1900. In this period, the image of long distance urban migrants as predominantly skilled and resourceful men engaged in patterns of career migration, became substituted for a bleaker picture of low-skilled men and women driven from their home country by impoverishment and persecution. This shift in the profile of long-distance migrants is often connected to the large-scale incorporation of agricultural workers into industrial and urban economies, and an overall growing international mobility thanks to expanding transportation and communication facilities, but the actual dynamics and agents of change at the meso (interpersonal connections) and micro level (individual characteristics) remain obscure. This project aims to shed light on these issues by combining a unique dataset on the individual characteristics and social networks of foreign newcomers in two distinct urban settings, with a novel hypothesis that focuses on the role of female domestic servants as mediators of migratory change. Its results will not only enhance our understanding of the epochal process of democratisation of long-distance migration at the turn of the nineteenth century, but also challenge dominant gender stereotypes in migration history.

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Research team(s)

Outcast or Embraced? Clusters of Foreign Immigrants in Belgium, c. 1840-1890 15/12/2014 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

In this project, the focus will be on foreign migrants who were working in one of the most internationalised labour market segments during the nineteenth century, the maritime labour market. The marked growth of maritime trade during the 19th century in the wake of commercial and industrial expansion went hand in hand with important technological and organizational innovations in shipping and the institutionalization and professionalization of maritime employment and education. Although there was a marked growth of maritime shipping in the wake of Belgium's commercial and industrial expansion in the 19th century, we know very little on the growing and often seasonal labour market for sailors on Belgian ships, where foreigners played an important part. Studying the migration patterns and trajectories, but also the recruitment patterns, profiles, career developments of foreign sailors offers a very specific way to study interactions between a particularly mobile group of migrants and one of the most internationalized labour market segments of the 19th century. Tracing the individual trajectories of foreign sailors will in turn provide insights into social networks and encounters of this diverse and transnational community both at sea and ashore, where their presence is considered a typical hallmark of the cosmopolitan aura of port cities. This project is part of a broader research project "Outcast or Embraced? Clusters of Foreign Immigrants in Belgium, c. 1840-1890", which aims to investigate the scale and nature of socio-cultural encounters and confrontations that emanated from foreign migration to Belgium between c. 1840 and 1890 by cross- and interdisciplinary analysis and valorization of a series of exceptionally rich but underexploited series of the federal historical heritage. The project aims (1) to map the scale, chronology and profiles of foreign migration to 19th-century Belgium, and (2) to investigate the political, economic, social and cultural dimensions of interactions of foreigners with different layers of Belgian society. Its underlying assumption is that increasing international mobility and circulation – rather than one-off migration – had a profound influence on the economic, political, cultural and social history of 19th-century Europe in general, and Belgium in particular

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Research team(s)

Subordination or solidarity? Poor relief as an instrument of village elites in the 16th-century Southern Low Countries. 01/10/2014 - 20/08/2018

Abstract

In the 16th-century Low Countries, some 20% of all people were exempted from taxes due to poverty. It was a period of increasing prices - even hyperinflation – and wages not keeping up. Contemporaries also noted an increase in the poverty level, causing major reorganisations and reforms. Historians have labelled pre-modern poor relief either as a 'moralising' poor relief, a tool to regulate labour markets, or as an alternative to informal solidarity networks which all but disappeared in increasingly anonymous cities. However, such general explanations do not explain why seemingly very similar poor relief institutions could allow for very divergent practices. Starting from the praxis of rural poor relief in the 16th-century Southern Low Countries, this project argues that it was above all an instrument of village elites. The aim and function of poor relief – but also the tools that were used – varied according to the composition, characteristics and social strategies of the elites controlling it. Poor relief might thus have been labour-regulating in one region and solidarity-enhancing in another, or something in between these two extremes. By focussing on the 16th-century Holy Ghost tables (the major providers of rural poor relief) and the regional and local differences in relief praxis, I will argue that the effects of similar institutions were strongly divergent due to differences in social structures and concomitant elite characteristics.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Poor relief and community building in the Southern Low Countries, ca. 1300-1600. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

This project will study poor relief in an integrated way in three towns in the Southern Low Countries from circa 1300 to 1600 (Ghent, Mechelen and Bergues/Sint-Winoksbergen), in order to examine how, through poor relief schemes, urban communities of solidarity were shaped. I will analyze which communities were implied or shaped when it was regulated and decided who could profit from poor relief, and how this changed in the long run. Who had access to relief systems (and who did not) and what community thereby served as a frame of reference? Which social boundaries were created (and by whom)? Was increasing social fragmentation reflected in a fragmentation of poor relief, or was there a shift from local and particular communities to the whole city in the fifteenth and sixteenth century?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Women's fortunes. Female agency, property and investment in the urban space of late medieval Brabant. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

In the Late Middle Ages the social position of women underwent major transitions. However, until today historians fail to agree on the nature of these changes. On the one hand, scholars argue that possibilities for women waned, while on the other hand, others maintain that the period was a 'golden age' in terms of women's opportunities. Far too often these debates tend to revolve around women's labour, rather than around other economic activities, such as women's property investment, and the motives surrounding their actions. To grasp fully the fundamental changes in women's status, this project proposes a social analysis of gender relations and income strategies. For this purpose, the project studies how women and men invested their property and material belongings in urban society, and, most important, how this changed over the course of the fifteenth century. This will include an examination of both how gender relations influenced these patterns, and how these patterns were affected by the differences among women, in terms of their marital, social and economic status. A comparative analysis of the aldermen's registers of two cities with different characteristics, Leuven and Antwerp, will bring social and economic structures to the fore of the research. By focusing on sample years, the project will study all deeds containing information on the financial strategies of private persons, thereby contributing a new perspective on the changing status of late medieval women.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Questioning water modernity: a GIS-approach to the privatization and resilience of common drinking water systems in 18th- and 19th-century cities, test-case: Antwerp (1750-1900). 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

This project has the ambition of developing a bottom-up social and spatial approach to the privatization of urban drinking water in 18th- and 19th-century cities. Such approach would not be possible without a micro-level GIS, enabling us to follow private, public or common access to drinking water, its use and users on the level of the household. For 18th- and 19th-century Antwerp the GIStorical Antwerp project (UA-Hercules) offers such infrastructure. At this stage in its development, GIStorical Antwerp offers spatial information on each plot for 1830- 1880 based on cadastral data, with extension into the 18th century and up to 1900 scheduled for next year. Data gathered in this dissertation can hence be framed and analysed using year to year digital maps of the city, and integrated with available data on house ownership, commerce and industry. Thus, micro-level spatial analysis will form the core methodology, an approach that can - quite literally - open doors, analysing changes in, and blurring boundaries between, private, public and common space.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Human capital from a household perspective: knowledge investments in early modern Antwerp, Ghent, Lier and Aalst. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

As evidenced by this short state of the art, there is an urgent need for a micro-level approach in which education and the mechanisms behind human capital formation are analyzed comprehensively. This project aims to fulfill this requirement by 1° introducing a new kind of source to quantify the investments in various types of education and to identify the different causal factors involved from a household perspective; and 2° analyzing the situation in four distinct early modern cities in the Southern Low Countries, the first industrializing region on the continent.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Eating with your fingers, dining with your eyes. Table manners in the late mediëval and early modern Low Countries. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

The challenge we take up in this project is to flesh out if and how table manners were materialized in tableware, and how tableware contributed to changing social intercourse. Therefore, scattered information from archaeology, art history and cooking history awaits to be integrated. This project – at the crossroads of discourse analysis and material culture studies, will consider the dialectics between individuals and materiality, by using complementary sources and methods. 1) A discourse analysis of dining manuals will shed light on shifts and continuities in the meaning of dining manners. 2) Confronting this analysis with the material culture of tableware will reveal the extent to which this prescriptive literature was really appropriated. 3) Probate inventories will prove crucial to clarify the complex downward and upward social dimensions of these manners. In order to do justice to the genuine contribution of middling groups in urban society, the late medieval cities of Antwerp, Oudenaarde and Bruges with their shifting social textures and sociabilities were chosen for analysis.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

'Wo mistus, da Christus'. A micro-perspective on the allocation and recycling of urban waste in the rural economy of early modern Flanders. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

This project aims to investigate to what extent the contribution of urban waste and manure could overcome the challenge of fundamental nutrient deficiencies in regions of dense urbanisation and intensive agriculture. In order to reach that goal, the social relations that are at the core of this project, will be confronted with three other strategic factors affecting the manure allocation: transport improvements, institutional change and economic growth

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Practicing domesticity in an age of transition. Material cultures and discourses of inclusion and exclusion in 19th-c. Antwerp. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

This project is about the daily practices and material aspects that constituted the experience of 'home' in 19th-c. Antwerp. While early modern consumption and late 19th-c. shopping practices have thoroughly been studied, a lack of interest in the material practices of 19th-c. homemaking can be observed. Yet, the profound redefinition of domestic life and 'home' against a background of a rapidly changing material culture warrants scholarly scrutiny to come to a calibrated notion of 'domesticity' and 'home' in this age of critical transition. By means of a long-term, systematic analysis of probate inventories for 19th-c. Antwerp, the first purpose of this project is to determine how the domestic ideology got inscribed in the interior. Secondly, this research aims to consider whether and how (changes in) material practices in the 19th-c. contributed to processes of social inclusion and exclusion. How material practices were connected to the overarching issue of social inequality

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Fashionably Late? Economic growth and time awareness in early modern Europe (Antwerp & Amsterdam, 16th-18th century) 01/02/2014 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

The project explores the (assumed) link between time awareness and economic growth, by carefully comparing the development in two commercial hubs (Amsterdam & Antwerp) in a long-term perspective (early sixteenth to late eighteenth century) Due to this pioneering modus operandi, we aim to participate in some heated discussions on the nature, causes, and effects of the industrious and industrial revolution in early modern Europe.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Historical study of the street pattern of Doel. 09/01/2014 - 31/10/2014

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Collectors of the 'Wreckage of History'. Towards a reconstruction of the 'Antiquarian Milieu' in Belgium (ca. 1760 - ca. 1860). 01/01/2014 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

This project wants to offer a reconstruction and fuller understanding of the diversity of actors constituting an emerging milieu of antiquarian collectors during the dawn of the Belgium nation state (ca. 1760-ca. 1860). So far, no attempt has been undertaken to bring fragmented research and analysis into the antiquarian together in a new, integrated research initiative. The foundation of this undertaking rests on the construction of a prosopographic research database. Currently, no such research tool exists that allows for identification, categorization, and analysis of the emerging milieu of antiquarians in Belgium. Such research tool will form the cornerstone for the study of the formation, internal cohesion, institutionalisation, and social changes within the milieu of antiquarians. Questions relating to social profile, collecting practices, intellectual motivations, and the impact and function of antiquarians in Belgium society will from the internal rationale and driving logic behind this project.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The Lure of Lady Luck: lotteries and economic culture in the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Low Countries. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

This project analyzes lotteries to determine the boundaries between investing and gambling in the pre-industrial Low Countries. The project will reveal perceptions of and attitudes towards risk in conditions of economic uncertainty and considers the economic culture of the late middle ages and the early modern period.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

An exotic taste. The allocation of value in exotic groceries - the Low Countries, ca. 1250-1750. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

The project will conduct a long-term study of the way in which four exotic groceries with divergent trajectories (pepper, ginger, grains of paradise, and tea) were perceived of as desirable by contemporary consumers and observers. The research project integrates perspectives from economic, social and cultural history to draw out the long-term continuities and changes in the behaviour and mentality of European consumers towards global commodities, and the (material) world itself.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The domestic city. The organization and decoration of domestic space in fifteenth-and sixteenth- century Antwerp, Bruges and Dijon. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

The main objective of this project is to look beyond the public appearance of men and women in late-medieval cities. While the past two decades historical interest in the 'public' urban spaces has figured high on the research agenda, scholars have refrained from interrogating the complex ways people appropriated and arranged their own domestic space. Hence, there is an urgent need to define and redefine the ways in which city dwellers shaped their home, an entity that needs to be approached as both physical and ideological in essence (Lefebvre 1974).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The 'horizontal city' in the middle ages. Suburban settlement in the Southern Low Countries (late 15th-16th century). 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

This project will study suburban areas in the surroundings of three towns in the Southern Low Countries from ca. 1490 to 1585 (Antwerp, Oudenaarde and Bruges). It will examine the resilience of suburban areas, the economic and social organization of suburban societies and it will reveal whether suburban settlement developed a proper social identity.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Scientific research in economic and city history. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

In this book project the social and economic history of artisans is connected to the history of civil society and the urban body politic in the Southern Netherlands. Using the history of professional guilds as a lens, the book develops an entirely new approach to the relationship between the value of labour and skills on the one hand and political subjectivity, voice and participation on the other.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

All Rights Reserved? Barriers towards EUropean CITIZENship (bEUcitizen). 01/05/2013 - 30/04/2017

Abstract

The project claims to be distinctive in its focus on (1) the interaction of rules and practices, as well as a focus on five multiples; (2) the multi-layered and (3) multi-dimensional character of European citizenship; (4) its multitudinous effects on different categories of citizens; (5) the existence of multiple barriers to the exercise of rights; and (6) the endeavour to investigate these with a multidisciplinary team of scholars.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The emergence of a 'modern' labour market? Tracing rural labourers in an early modern commercial farming system: the Waasland polder area (1650-1850) 01/02/2013 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

Present-day rural history is still dominated by the debates on the transition from a feudal agrarian system, into a peasant society and finally into a capitalist economy. In this process, farmers of polder regions are considered to be pioneers, paving the way to commercial orientated monoculture. A key element in this transformation process is the emergence of wage labour on the countryside, revealing the rise of full grown markets. This project enables us to reveal the functioning of the early modern labour market of the polder area of the Waasland. Is this region 'pioneering' in the development of 'modern' labour market? If not, did farmers still apply the traditional ways of labour exchange, characterized by informal relations and reciprocal exchange, much the same as in the neighbouring region of Inland Flanders? These questions point to the range and origin of the labour force active in the large commercial polder farms. Therefore, a detailed analyses of the profile of the rural labourers must be undertaken. By employing three students, an enormous quantity of archival material will be scrutinized, in search of scattered information on labour relations. Because of the hard to find information (in memory books and ledgers or in probate inventories) and the large scale of this research proposal, project financing is the only efficient way to build an open database that could be used for publications and that could be consulted by fellow historians of the department.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Measuring the long-distance trade of the Low Countries: processing the mid-sixteenth-century tax registers into a relational database 01/02/2013 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

In this project a series of mid-sixteenth-century ledgers concerning the import and export to and from the Low Countries will be digitalized and entered into a relational database, which will be accessible online through the research center website of the applicant. The data allow a detailed analysis of international trade in the region during a phase of economic growth. The volumes of certain commodities (for example, textiles), the relative role of certain merchant groups (natives and foreign merchants) and that of commercial centers will be calculated. Hence, we can compose commercial profiles, both for the commercial centers and for the groups of merchants, a step beyond the current research which relies heavily on total numbers for this trade (and not the more detailed ones which await analysis in the archives). The data-input will be executed by history students during the summer break under the supervision of the applicant. The data will be used in the publication of the applicant's PhD-dissertation; the applicant wants to have his work published by a major US or UK university press. Moreover, the data will lead to one (or several, dependent on the results of the database) separate journal article in one of the top journals in economic history. Belgian and European historians and researchers can access the online database and compare the data with similar sources from other European regions, which will enhance the research on European trade in the early modern era.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Scientific research in the context of the investigation into the trade networks in Antwerp. 01/02/2013 - 31/07/2013

Abstract

This project focuses on the internatiional trade networks in Antwerp during the first half of the nineteenth century. It highlights the role of merchants and businessmen in the maritime trade business in Antwerp and the ways in which they reconnected Antwerp to the world after the reopening of the river Scheldt in 1795. This project emphasizes the ways in which merchants and businessmen from abroad and from Antwerp used,, expanded and maintained their international relations and networks by a close study of business correspondance in different port cities.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The town is the countryside. Textile production and towncountry-relations in the Flemish West Country (15th-16th centuries). 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

In the past decades urban and rural history have increasingly grown apart. Crucial debates about pre-modern social and economic developments, like those about proto-industry, towncountry-relations and other important issues are taking place with often very different conceptual frameworks and analytical tools. This project want to use the case study of the rural industries in the western parts of late medieval Flanders to confront approaches in both disciplines. Fundamental issues about factor markets for capital, labour and products will be analyzed in order to assess how manufacture of expensive and cheaper textiles is allocated in an urbanized region, which is linked to export markets across Europe.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The tearing tissue. Family, friends and neighbours: the resilence of everyday social relations (Brussels - Antwerp 1715-'90). 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

Our first objective is to look beyond various bold theories on (in)formal social relations, democratisation, poor relief, and civil society. Rather, we seek to resuscitate the simple everyday dimensions of community life. Earlier research may have settled for drawing a comprehensive still life of the who is who – and the who with whom – in myriad sorts of social networks and institutions; however, we wish to portray the praxis of everyday social relations at work. How, when and why did ordinary city dwellers appeal to neighbours, colleagues, friends, and family? Were these social ties strong or weak? Vertical or horizontal?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Heirs, Kinship ties and urban associations. City dwellers and their networks in 16th century Mechelen. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

This research proposal aims at analyzing the way in which and the reasons why town dwellers in 15th and 16th century Mechelen bequeathed to their extended family, and how this correlated with simultaneously adhering to diverse formal and informal urban associations. This will be traced primarily in wills by means of a systematic and diachronic discourse analysis of specific patterns of identification in will preambles, and the motivations that lay behind the division of the heritage, which will be combined with a quantitative approach. Assembling the legacies to urban groups and kin in grids and tables will enable us to analyse their relative proportion in the long run. To present a more nuanced image of pre-modern urban society than traditional history permits, we will combine this line of research with an in-depth study of the social profiles of the testators. The already advanced state of data collection on associational life in Mechelen makes it feasible to postulate how legacies to the extended family in wills correspond with the testators¿ membership in particular urban groups, as well as with their gender and wealth. Hence, this proposal fits in a broader field of research on civil society and urban associational life, linking this with research on kinship and family life.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Poor relief and community building in the Southern Low Countries, ca. 1300-1600. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

This project will study poor relief in an integrated way in three towns in the Southern Low Countries from circa 1300 to 1600 (Ghent, Mechelen and Bergues/Sint-Winoksbergen), in order to examine how, through poor relief schemes, urban communities of solidarity were shaped. I will analyze which communities were implied or shaped when it was regulated and decided who could profit from poor relief, and how this changed in the long run. Who had access to relief systems (and who did not) and what community thereby served as a frame of reference? Which social boundaries were created (and by whom)? Was increasing social fragmentation reflected in a fragmentation of poor relief, or was there a shift from local and particular communities to the whole city in the fifteenth and sixteenth century?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Human capital from a household perspective: knowledge investments in early modern Antwerp, Ghent, Lier and Aalst. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

As evidenced by this short state of the art, there is an urgent need for a micro-level approach in which education and the mechanisms behind human capital formation are analyzed comprehensively. This project aims to fulfill this requirement by 1° introducing a new kind of source to quantify the investments in various types of education and to identify the different causal factors involved from a household perspective; and 2° analyzing the situation in four distinct early modern cities in the Southern Low Countries, the first industrializing region on the continent.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Eating with your fingers, dining with your eyes. Table manners in the late medieval and early modern Low Countries. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

The challenge we take up in this project is to flesh out if and how table manners were materialized in tableware, and how tableware contributed to changing social intercourse. Therefore, scattered information from archaeology, art history and cooking history awaits to be integrated. This project – at the crossroads of discourse analysis and material culture studies, will consider the dialectics between individuals and materiality, by using complementary sources and methods. 1) A discourse analysis of dining manuals will shed light on shifts and continuities in the meaning of dining manners. 2) Confronting this analysis with the material culture of tableware will reveal the extent to which this prescriptive literature was really appropriated. 3) Probate inventories will prove crucial to clarify the complex downward and upward social dimensions of these manners. In order to do justice to the genuine contribution of middling groups in urban society, the late medieval cities of Antwerp, Oudenaarde and Bruges with their shifting social textures and sociabilities were chosen for analysis.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Church music and confessionalization in transformation. Case Antwerp, ca. 1585-1794. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

This project aims to investigate the interaction between church music and urban society during a period of multiple transformations. By mapping the use of church music as a means to establish and consolidate a confessional identity on the one hand, and by assessing the influence of the religious, political and socio-cultural changes on the production and patronage of church music on the other hand, evolutions in musical life will be interpreted in relation to the societal context and vice versa. Through this study, the layered meaning and functioning of church music in an urban environment will become apparent.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

At Home in Sixteenth-Century Flanders. Materiality and Domesticity in the City (1450-1650). 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

The main objective of this project is to look beyond studies that treat citizens as members of the public urban community (e.g. Nicholas 1985; Stabel and Boone 2000) without acknowledging the key role that may have been played by living patterns in their households.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Scientific research in the city's history. 01/10/2012 - 30/06/2013

Abstract

The project for this sabbatical consists of two research axes: firstly the completion of a monograph on economic change and guild economies in late medieval Bruges; secondly archival prospection and data gathering in archival depots in Belgium.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Tiny Voices from the Past: New perspectives on Childhood in Early Europe. 01/09/2012 - 30/06/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the University of Oslo. UA provides the University of Oslo research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

GIStorical Antwerp: a micro-level data tool for the study of past urban societies, test-case: Antwerp. 02/07/2012 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Beyond Baudelaire's indignation : an enquiry into the interplay between the art markets and the decline of the representation theory in art criticism. The case of Brussels, 1848-1914. 01/07/2012 - 30/06/2016

Abstract

The purpose of this interdisciplinary project is to gain an in-depth understanding of 'art value' through a diachronic analysis of the Brussels art market (1848-1914) in relation to simultaneous transformations in the art-theoretical discourse and aesthetic thinking. Preparatory historical research has shown that the Brussels art market was profoundly restructured during the second half of the 19th century (Arnout). Interestingly enough, this reorganization of the Brussels art market did not only coincide with a striking increase in the number of specialized art magazines, but also with the decline of the representation theory and the rise of the expression theory in the visual arts at the end of the 19th century. Through a systematic analysis of various forms of discourse on art value (ranging from market value eloquently phrased in auction catalogues to art criticism in magazines and philosophical aesthetics), these phenomena will for the first time be approached in one research project. Whereas historical research on art markets benefits both from an in-depth art-historical knowledge of the works sold and from an insight into the aesthetic canon of a certain period (Lyna), the need for a historical dimension becomes more and more explicit in art-philosophical research concerning the criticism of representation. In this interdisciplinary project, the paradigm shift from representation theory to expression theory offers a unique opportunity to fathom the interplay of aesthetic thinking and the (historical transformations of the) art markets.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

City and society in the low countries (ca. 1200 - ca 1850). The condition urbaine: between resilience and vulnerability (City&Society). 01/04/2012 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

In the previous IAP phase, our network covered the wide time-frame of the late Middle Ages and early modern period (roughly speaking the period between 1200 and 1800). In this new IAP phase, driven by the need for wider comparisons and a better understanding of patterns of transformation, our network intends to extend the chronological scope until ca. 1850, allowing the transition to modern society to be included. The study of transformations and continuities between, on the one hand, the medieval and early modern period and, on the other hand, the early modern and modern period, will therefore be at the core of our research.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Research Tongerlo abbey library. 01/01/2012 - 28/02/2013

Abstract

This research project aims at defining the several subcollections that constitute the general library collection of Tongerlo abbey, and at determining their main contents and cultural significance. This feasability study will lead to a report with recommendations regarding the priorities to be followed in cataloging the books in an online library system. The results of this survey will also be of use in preparing preservation and conservation matters.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Understanding long-run demographic and economic change in the Low Countries: towards a comprehensive database for early modern parish registers 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

What caused the birth of modern economic growth? Historians and economists increasingly refer to the demographic behaviour of households in the past to explain big questions. This project contributes to major debates in economic and social history by creating a comprehensive database of early modern parish registers. It provides the necessary empirical foundations to analyse demographic and economic change in the pre-industrial Low Countries.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Mapping the landscape of consumption: digitalising nineteenth-century 'adresboeken' of Antwerp and Bruges 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

The goal of this project resides in securing the necessary funding for a database-structured breakdown of almanacs, and this for three well chosen sample years (1837, 1867 and 1897), and for two differing, but complementary nineteenth-century cities, namely Antwerp and Bruges. Almanac are unique sources, which provide information on the morphological, social and economic functioning of cities not readily found elsewhere. These databases will first be rendered fruitful in the context of my own research on the retail infrastructure and consumption patterns in nineteenth-century cities. Afterwards, the databse will be made public to other researchers as well.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

At the Cradle of the Creative Economy? Following the Fortunes of the Alumni of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (1846-1866) 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

This project aspires two crucial databases of the Antwerp population registers of 1846 and 1866, which offer us unique last snapshots of the Antwerp society before the advancing modernisation altered its character forever. Besides the immediate implementations for the promoter's research, these databases on nineteenth-century Antwerp would guarantee a direct impact within the Department of History and the Centre for Urban History as a whole.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Female networking in early modern Aalst: 'hidden' social capital? 01/10/2011 - 09/01/2014

Abstract

The project aims to examine the (development of) networks of women (and men) in a small early modern city during the 17th and 18th century. We aim to examine economic as well as non-economic networks (e.g. guilds and confraternities) and formal as well as informal relations (neighborhood relations, family relations, bonds of friendship). These developments will be contextualized by taking into consideration the possible influences of changes in women's position in the household economy on the broader social and economic networks of female actors and vice versa. During this research we will also pay attention to the networks of male actors in order to get grip on the differences and or similarities in networking according to gender . By integrating a cultural as well as an economic and social approach towards the social relations of unmarried and married women (and men) we will take a necessary and refreshing step towards a better understanding of women's social and economic agency at the intersection of social and domestic life.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Between local autonomy and national migration policy. Dealing with 'foreigners' in Antwerp, 1750-1914 01/07/2011 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

This project aims to investigate the role of local authorities in the development of national migration policies during the period 1750-1914 by uncovering continuities and changes in the treatment of non-national migrants in the city of Antwerp in a long-term perspective. Research on national migration policies has so far been characterized by a top-down approach that privileges the legal, philosophical and political dimensions of national legislation. This project proposes a bottom-up approach by focusing on how these regulations were implemented in Antwerp where they interacted with a legacy of ancien régime practices and local interests to produce particular treatments of non-national migrants. More precisely, it focuses on interactions between local and national authorities in realising the shift from non-local to non-national newcomers as the main target of migration regulation in the course of the long nineteenth century. The general purpose is twofold: (1) to bridge the historiographical divide between social and early modern studies focusing on local forms of migration regulation and political and contemporary historians adopting a national perspective, and (2) to correct the idea of a sharp discontinuity between migration policy practices in ancien régime and 'modern' Europe.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Needs and requirements on conservation/preservation, retrieval and digitization of heritage collections in four conservatory libraries in Flanders and Brussels. 24/05/2011 - 15/10/2011

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Resonant. UA provides Resonant research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Micro-economic analysis of the textile trade around 1500 in Bruges and Antwerp: the double-entry account ledgers of Wouter Ameide (1498-1507). 01/04/2011 - 31/03/2015

Abstract

This project will use methods from economic analysis (micro-economic analysis and accountancy) and social and economic history to assess the management of business in the first half of the 16th century and shed a new light on the introduction of new productivity enhancing techniques (more efficient methods of controlling information) in periods of great economic change (decline of the Bruges and growth of the Antwerp market).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Master plan preservation-conservation and accessibility-digitization. 01/02/2011 - 31/08/2011

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheek. UA provides Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheek research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

City and change. The City as the object of study in a historical light. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

Recent literature in urban studies tends to identify and define the city as an ever more complex and hybrid reality, referring to the urban as something 'splintered', 'assembled' and 'imagined' while seeking refuge in new concepts and catchphrases like 'post'-city, 'non'-city, or 'ex'-urban. Our collective research initiative will transcend this not by churning out even more new theories and concepts, but by analysing the very activity of defining the city as a historical process and practice. To that end, we will concentrate on four concrete, complementary domains, in which the definition of cities is at stake by nature. By focusing on (1) 'suburbanisation', (2) 'territoriality', and (3) 'urban citizenship' we examine the existence and meaningfulness of physical, social and imagined boundaries in defining the urban and urbanity. The theme of 'knowledge' (4) adds a reflexive layer by analysing the long term interconnections between the urban reality and knowledge formation – including knowledge on the city itself.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Human qualities. Repertoires of evaluation and the objectification of product quality in the early modern Low Countries (case: table ware industry). 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

Increasingly, economic historians realize that product qualities, eventually prices, are cultural constructs. This project will examine how product quality of early modern tableware was 'objectified' in the run- up to the industrial and consumer society, analyzing in particular the role played by human competencies in the process of product quality construction.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Between local autonomy and national migration policy: Dealing with 'foreigners' in Antwerp and Brussels, 1750-1914. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

This project aims to investigate the role of local authorities in the development of national migration policies during the period 1750-1914 by uncovering continuities and changes as well as similarities and differences in the treatment of non-national migrants in two distinct Belgian urban contexts - Antwerp and Brussels - in a comparative and long-term perspective.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Peasants, farmers and the rise of rural commodity markets. Test-case: the 18th century Land van Waas 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

This research project tackles one central question: did rural societies with diverging household and production (income) strategies, also differed in consumptive behaviour? In Early Modern Europe, rural communities predominated by peasant smallholding and proto-industrial development coexisted with regions of specialised capitalist farming. The possibility for economic growth generated by both communities has long been debated in historiography, but mostly from the perspective of agricultural production, not consumption. Studies on urban consumptive behaviour reveal major changes in the material culture of almost all social groups in the course of the 18th century, but their impact on the countryside remains largely unknown. Through a comparative analysis of probate inventories, this research project sheds light on the divergent appropriation of changes in taste and demand in different rural communities. The Land van Waas in Flanders offers the ideal test-case for this research project. In the 18th century the region was internationally renowned for its peasant farming system and its specific proto-industrial development (clog-making etc.). However, it also encompassed an important 'polder' district where capitalist farming on large leasehold farms had emerged. By analysing consumption flows between town and countryside, between smallholders and larger farmers and between both communities, we will get a better appreciation of regional divergences in the occurrence of so-called 'consumer revolutions' in the 18th century countryside.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

An interdisciplinary analysis of the Prix de Rome (1819-1920) at the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

In the scope of the 350th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, an inventory and interdisciplinary analysis of the Prix de Rome collection will be made. From an art-historical perspective, the unexplored rich archives of the biennial Prix de Rome (1819-1920) will be analyzed using the concepts of quality and artistic talent. In addition, the entire collection of sculptures of the Prix de Rome will inventoried, as well registering and labelling the object, as an inventory of damage and the associated preventive and curative conservation measures.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Printing press production and publishing strategies in Antwerp (1585-1648). 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This project represents a research contract awarded by the University of Antwerp. The supervisor provides the Antwerp University research mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions stipulated by the university.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Political culture in three early modern cities: A comparative study of Amsterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg, 1650-1790. 01/01/2011 - 30/06/2011

Abstract

Cooperation at a scientific research project "Political culture in Three Early Modern Cities: A Comparative Study of Amsterdam Antwerp and Hamburg, 1650-1790" in the context of a VLAC-fellowship with Prof. M. Lindemann (University of Miami, USA).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The Training of Talent? Selection and Assessment Procedures at the Academies of Fine Arts in Antwerp and The Hague, 1650-1850. 01/10/2010 - 03/02/2013

Abstract

Up until now, scholarly debates on artistic quality and talent in the early modern period too often revolve around art theoretical writings, rather than their practical applications. This interdisciplinary research project will analyze the cultural construction of these concepts at Academies of Fine Arts, institutions aimed at training talented artists and raising the quality level of the art production. The central research question is: how did the Academies of Fine Arts shape the dynamic concepts of artistic 'quality' and 'talent' in their selection, training and assessment procedures of students during the late seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The wealth of cities. Economic growth and living standards in Brabant, Holland and Liège in the long run, 1500-1900. 01/10/2010 - 31/01/2013

Abstract

A major achievement of historical research in the past decades has been to deconstruct the old assumption that early modern Europe was a growthless economy. In recent years historians have spent increasing attention to the reconstruction of historical national accounts of early modern Europe, which, however, has led to a conundrum. New studies reveal long-run increases in GDP per capita that contradict older evidence on low levels and declining trends of living standards. This confusion is true for Europe as a whole, and is highly problematic since it seriously confounds our appreciation of the long-run growth achievement of even the most developed pre-industrial economies. Moreover, diverging paths between real wages and per capita GDPestimates urge us to connect the living standard research to the income distribution debate. Building on a novel approach this project reconstructs aggregate and socially diversified real incomes in a comparative micro-level study for three regions in the Southern and Northern Netherlands between 1500 and 1900. Six urban centres in Brabant, Holland and Liège with distinct paths of development will be studied. This project contributes to a more profound understanding of the long-term development in living standards in the face of economic growth and decline.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Social relations through consumer practices. Well-to-do households in Antwerp, second half 17th - first half 19th century. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

Research on social relations behind and constructed by consumer activities through quantitative and qualitative investigation of the 'flow' of goods/services and trade-partners, using household journals, accounts and correspondence of 17th-18th century members of the Antwerp social elite. By inquiring what was being bought from whom, an attempt will be made to reconstruct the social network and the 'flow' patterns of consumption from within the actors themselves, and thus discovering the how and why regarding consumer activity, the relevant social relations (credit-relations, reciprocity, etc.), the use of goods, and any evolutions thereof.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Relational and institutional trust in the international trade of the Low Countries, 15th-16th centuries. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

This research project investigates the role of trust in networks and institutions used by international merchants in Bruges and Antwerp in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Assuming two types of trust, i.e. relational and institutional, this research wants to determine whether trust became (relatively) obsolete when new legal institutions and rules arose that are said to have facilitated commercial transactions between international traders.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Heirs, kinship ties and urban associations. City dwellers and their networks in 15th and 16th century Mechelen. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

This research proposal aims at analyzing the way in which and the reasons why town dwellers in 15th and 16th century Mechelen bequeathed to their extended family, and how this correlated with simultaneously adhering to diverse formal and informal urban associations. This will be traced primarily in wills by means of a systematic and diachronic discourse analysis of specific patterns of identification in will preambles, and the motivations that lay behind the division of the heritage, which will be combined with a quantitative approach. Assembling the legacies to urban groups and kin in grids and tables will enable us to analyse their relative proportion in the long run. To present a more nuanced image of pre-modern urban society than traditional history permits, we will combine this line of research with an in-depth study of the social profiles of the testators. The already advanced state of data collection on associational life in Mechelen makes it feasible to postulate how legacies to the extended family in wills correspond with the testators¿ membership in particular urban groups, as well as with their gender and wealth. Hence, this proposal fits in a broader field of research on civil society and urban associational life, linking this with research on kinship and family life.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Church music and confessionalization in transformation. Casus Antwerp, ca. 1585-1794. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

This project aims to investigate the interaction between church music and urban society during a period of multiple transformations. By mapping the use of church music as a means to establish and consolidate a confessional identity on the one hand, and by assessing the influence of the religious, political and socio-cultural changes on the production and patronage of church music on the other hand, evolutions in musical life will be interpreted in relation to the societal context and vice versa. Through this study, the layered meaning and functioning of church music in an urban environment will become apparent.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

International trade and economic development in the Austrian Netherlands, 1759-1791. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

My project, titled "International trade and economic development in the Austrian Netherlands, 1759-1791", means to initiate a study of the so far disregarded dialectic relationship between international trade and the economic growth of the Austrian Netherlands in the second half of the eighteenth century. I will investigate the impact of international trade and the trade policy on a number of economic sectors in order to reveal the different actors and effects. On the one hand it aims to deliver new insights into the economic history of the Southern Netherlands, while on the other hand it is strongly embedded in vivid present-day international debates.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

"Economies of quality" and the Material Renaissance. The Forgotten Consumer Revolution of the Low Countries in the Long Sixteenth Century. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

This project represents a research contract awarded by the University of Antwerp. The supervisor provides the Antwerp University research mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions stipulated by the university.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Selected Issues in Using the Recorder in the Performance of Sacred Music circa 1500-1650: Variations on a Theme. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This project researches and establishes the presently unknown historical role of the recorder in the performance of sacred music from 1500 to 1650. It researches selected performance parameters which were not notated in the original music sources, the role of the contemporary performer in their realization and consequently in the creation of the composition. Sacred works will be performed in a variety of ways for comparison and new editions prepared. Historical and performance research are thereby integrated.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

From medieval estates to modern parliament. A study into the political participation in regional and central institutions in the Low Countries 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This research project wants to investigate the roots of a modern parliamentary culture. This aim will be achieved by looking at the representatives of the city of Mechelen on a regional and central level between 1350 and 1850. The data about the representatives will be linked with existing databases of local administrators, political mandataries, board members of associations and social groups.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Van Dijck Maarten

Research team(s)

Citysounds 18: Research on the musical life of Antwerp in the 18th century. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This research project looks widely at musical life in Antwerp, without making distinctions between genres, so that a broad overview emerges regarding the place and functioning of musical life. Much unknown music will be portrayed in its broader artistic framework, so that historical performance practice is also further enriched and the music can be situated against the background of Western European music history. The connection with present-day performance practice will be strengthened by grouping together the final artistic productions within the global concept 'Citysounds 18.'

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Black dyes used in the textile industry from 1600-1856: historical sources versus objects. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This project aims to understand the use of iron compounds in black dyeing of textiles and the implications on the degradation, conservation (early modern period, Antwerp). Our hypothesis is that despite the prohibition on the cheap and bad dye processes by the crafts, in practice it was much more used than historical sources suggest. Our approach is technological history, as reflected in written sources come forward to confront research on ancient textiles.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Religion, memory and identity in the seventeenth century. 01/10/2009 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Europa suffered a series of religious wars. One of these was the Dutch Revolt, a civil war that tore the seventeen Netherlands apart. This project examines the role of war memories in the subsequent creation of new religious and political cultures in Northern and Southern Netherlands, and compares the memory cultures of the Netherlands with those of other territories that had been marked by religious strife.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Female networking in early modern Aalst: "hidden" social capital? 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

The project aims to examine the (development of) networks of women (and men) in a small early modern city during the 17th and 18th century. We aim to examine economic as well as non-economic networks (e.g. guilds and confraternities) and formal as well as informal relations (neighborhood relations, family relations, bonds of friendship). These developments will be contextualized by taking into consideration the possible influences of changes in women's position in the household economy on the broader social and economic networks of female actors and vice versa. During this research we will also pay attention to the networks of male actors in order to get grip on the differences and or similarities in networking according to gender . By integrating a cultural as well as an economic and social approach towards the social relations of unmarried and married women (and men) we will take a necessary and refreshing step towards a better understanding of women's social and economic agency at the intersection of social and domestic life.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Craft Guilds under pressure: political strategies between corporations and city council in 16th century Antwerp. 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

This Phd makes part of the research on 'civil society' and the 'urban corporate centerfield'. From the view of craft guilds, as corporative organizations of professions, this research focuses on how those associations could maintain a certain stability within the city while Antwerp dwellers came severely under pressure during the tempestuous and 'Long 16th Century', compared to the political, economic, social and cultural strategies of craft guilds in other Brabantine cities as Mechelen and Leuven.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

'La main de l'histoire se fatigue'. Discourses about the past(s) in Antwerp and Brussels during the French regime. 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

Since the groundbreaking work by Lynn Hunt, François Furet and other pioneer representatives of the cultural turn in French revolutionary research, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to revolutionary historical culture. The predominant interpretation of the revolution as an intentional break with the past – if at the same time a cyclical move in its intention to return to mankind's origin – is hardly ever challenged. Especially so in the regions annexed to France or converted into sister republics. Qualifying the period of French occupation as alien to their national history, patriotic historians of the later nation states that developed out of these occupied territories have willingly emphasized the antithesis between French revolutionary ideology and indigenous traditions. Thus, the anti-historical and alien features of French revolutionary thinking have continuously been stressed. This project seeks to qualify both assumptions by carefully re-examining the historical discourse issued by French revolutionary authorities in Belgium. Recent transnational trends in historical research have replaced the old dichotomy between occupier and occupied with a much more dynamical conception of mutual influencing and borrowing. This process is clearly visible in the historical discourse issued by revolutionary authorities in occupied Belgium. When addressing the inhabitants, the officials subtly borrowed from native historical discourses in trying to legitimize French rule. As it turns out, elements from both national and local history were actively appropriated rather than rejected. These findings challenge the predominant view of official French revolutionary discourse as anti-historical and impervious to the local context. Thus, this projects calls for a new understanding of the role of historical discourse in the French administration of the occupied territories. Its range extends to the Napoleonic period, in which history regained a new prominence in state policy. However, many of the historical themes developed by local Napoleonic administration rooted in the historical interpretations issued by their revolutionary and Directoire predecessors. On the other hand, meaningful shifts in historical explanation illustrate the active use of historical discourse in legitimizing Napoleonic rule.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Data infrastructure for the study of guilds and other forms of corporate collective action in pre-industrial times. 01/09/2009 - 11/02/2010

Abstract

The research aims to coordinate, harmonize and broaden the work on systematic data sets of guilds, in order to facilitate international comparative study of the rise and development of these corporate bodies in the centuries before the Industrial Revolution.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Investing in useful knowledge in the Antwerp diamond sector, from the second half of the sixteenth century to the end of the ancien régime 01/07/2009 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

In this project investing in useful knowledge is examined for the Antwerp diamond sector in the early modern period. Central questions are 1) how learning on the shop floor transformed as a result of the changes in the production structures and product innovations, 2) which role investments in skills played in the development of this skill-intensive sector and 3) which role institutions played in contracting those investments.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Production pedlars and peasants in the early modern Southern Netherlands. Comparing the local economy. 01/02/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

This project aims to scrutinise the functioning of the local economies of two early modern regions. Using the expertise on the Alost region, a clear-cut, comparative study on the Land van Waas will be carried out. First, this project will focus on the development of a database, compiling some 600 households. Second, the database will be compared with the PhD-findings, resulting in international publications.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Postwar Public Architecture and Clients, an International Perspective 01/02/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

This project wants to stimulate the international research on post war public architecture and public clients, by starting comparative research on the concept, various definitions of and debate on public architecture and public clients in international contemporary periodicals. The project aims the publication of an international scientific article and concept for an interdisciplinary workshop.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

As good as old: second-hand consumption and the dawn of modernity, ca. 1750-ca. 1870. 01/02/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

The proposed project focuses on the changing nature of second-hand in times of increasing industrialization and modernization (c. 1750-1870). For the moment, the processing of complex data-matrices is the order of the day; just as the ongoing research requires necessary comparative testing. A strictly planned study- and research stay at the University of California in Berkeley, is essential in this aspect.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website

Sex as key to success? Early modern gendered labour markets studied using eighteenth century Brabantine censuses. 01/02/2009 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

By analysing the labour markets for both men and women in early modern Brabant I aim to shred some light on the supposed causal connection between female labour force participation and economic growth. Keeping in mind the importance of local divergence, both rural regions, small and large towns will be investigated. Doing that, I will differentiate and make comparisons between married, single and widowed men and women.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Van Aert Laura

Research team(s)

Multiple identities in a late medieval and early modern city: Mechelen in the 15th and 16th centuries. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

This project aims at analysing multiple identities that town dwellers adopt and (re)produce and in doing so it will try to present a more nuanced image of pre-modern urban society than traditional social and cultural history usually permits. For the case-study of Mechelen in the late medieval and early modern period, it wants to identify how identities are constructed (by the participation of different groups in civil society), how they are performed in the public arena and how identities are perceived in collective memory (rituals, historiography, literature).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Micro-economic analysis of the textile trade around 1500 in Bruges: the double-entry account ledgers of Wouter Ameide (1498-1507). 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This project will use methods from economic analysis (micro-economic analysis and accountancy) and from social and economic history to assess the impact of the introduction of new productivity enhancing techniques (more efficient methods of acquiring and controlling in periods of great economic change (the transition from the Bruges to the Antwerp market around 1500).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Music historical, stylistic and artistic research on the Russian opera's of Sergei Prokofiev and the meaning of Maddalena as preliminary study of The Gambler and The Fiery Angel. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

This integrated artistic research project focuses on the Russian operas by Sergei Prokofiev. Research in music history and music technique will cast a new light on the origin, performance, perception, style and content. This will be linked to a new instrumentation of the one-acter Maddalena and the composition of a whole new chamber opera, based on the same story.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

A historically informed, scenical performance of Johann Christian Bach's opera Artaserse. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

This project aims at performing Johann Christian Bach's progressive opera Artaserse in historically informed fashion. To do so, a critical edition of the score will be created so as to supersede all extant original manuscripts and facsimiles of the score. Scholarly research will furthermore deal with the opera's historical set designs, costumes, and mise-en-scène. The eventual scenic realization will introduce conservatoire students to the intricacies of mid-eighteenth-century operatic performance.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

18th Century Keyboard Music from the Southern Netherlands. Correlation and Interchanges between Repertoire and Instruments. The Historical Performance Practice from an interdisciplinary Point of View. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

The study of the 18th century keyboard music from the Southern Netherlands is a highly underrated research topic. This project concentrates on the interconnection between instruments and the repertoire. New historical and musicological findings will be confronted with a current performance practice. This new dialogue between scientific questions and artistic realisations in the field of this underestimated but highly important topic, is the only way to enhance our understanding of 'historical performance practice'.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website

Civil society in late medieval and early modern Mechelen. The development and function of urban club life, 1400-1800 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

This research projects wants to examine the field of independent citizens, free of traditional societal powers such as the economic market and the central state. Recent studies indicate that this development of the European civil society can only be understood from a historical perspective, but most historians of the early modern period still believe that the club life of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment was the cradle of this civil society. The consequences of this new chronology are important. It means that not the secular associations of the Enlightenment but the Christian corporations of the middle ages were crucial in the existence of a civil society. Needless to say, that this new perspective dramatically changes our understanding of the importance and evolution of the civil society in Europe. The political culture ¿ which flourished in this civil society according to several studies ¿ will be at the heart of our analysis. Indeed, several sociologists have claimed that a dense associational life ¿ which is more or less the same as a dynamic civil society ¿ goes hand in glove with the rise of a democratic political culture. This contradicts with traditional visions on the political elites of the late medieval and the early modern times. Numerous studies have pointed at the oligarchic and closed character of most urban governments in the Low Countries. Next tot this, historical research showed that the craft guilds did not promote political participation. These conclusions suggest that the influence of late medieval and early modern civil society was rather small. Therefore, this research project will investigate how the long tradition of civil society and associational life in early modern Europe influenced political participation and democratization. We will look at the evolution of the civil society in a particular city in the Netherlands, namely Mechelen. This was a middle-size city situated in the heart of the Low Countries which could be representative for other towns in the Southern Netherlands. Mechelen did not fundamentally differ from other neighbouring cities in the Antwerp hinterland. The population of the city rose from 15.000 inhabitants during the middle of the fourteenth century to 30.000 inhabitants two centuries later. The demographic evolution changed completely after 1530. This was due to the departure of the Court of Margaret of Austria, the economic reversion and the Dutch Revolt (1566-1609). The population recovered during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it never exceeded 20.000 inhabitants until the end of the Ancien Regime. The investigation of one city should enable us to formulate more precise conclusions about the long term developments and to investigate different aspects of our subject. Of course, we will also make comparisons with other well studied cities in the Low Countries (i.e. Antwerp, Amsterdam, Gent, 's-Hertogenbosch and Zwolle) and look at the developments in other European regions.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Social relations and consumer activity of the Antwerp elite (17th-18th century). 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

Research on social relations behind and constructed by consumer activities through quantitative and qualitative investigation of the 'flow' of goods/services and trade-partners, using household journals, accounts and correspondence of 17th-18th century members of the Antwerp social elite. By inquiring what was being bought from whom, an attempt will be made to reconstruct the social network and the 'flow' patterns of consumption from within the actors themselves, and thus discovering the how and why regarding consumer activity, the relevant social relations (credit-relations, reciprocity, etc.), the use of goods, and any evolutions thereof.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Social inequality and mobility during the long sixteenth century: Bois-le-Duc and its "Meierij" 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

Historical interest in the dynamics of social inequalities has been strangely underdeveloped. Especially as to the late medieval and early modern Low Countries, surprisingly little is known on patterns of social and economic mobility on the household level within its numerous cities. Armed with a number of exceptional sources, this project hopes to further our understanding of the inequalities and mobilities of a typical ancien régime town, as well as their processes of (re)production. Intergenerational transfers of resources will occupy a key place in the analysis and theories brought into play.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Science or Technical Skills ? Circulation of academic-theoretical and technical-practical knowledge in the medical professional field in Brabant (1540-1815). 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

This project examines the circulation of medical knowledge in the early modern period, an historic era in which the nature and character of that knowledge transformed fundamentally. From a bottom up perspective, medical expertise shifted towards a more theoretical and abstract type of knowledge. From a top down perspective, it tended to become more 'incorporated' and based on practical and empirical skills. Precisely the very field of tension between these two types of knowledge (and the way they gradually converged) will be focused upon. The sources consist of medical treaties, certificates, pamphlets, freemen books, guild sources of the barbers and the surgeons, primary published scientifical literature, and so on. The final aim is to shed light on the relationship between the knowledge itself and the ways in which it circulated ¿ during the period 1540-1815, a time of scientific investigations and medicalization.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Relational and institutional trust in the international trade of the Low Countries, 15th-16th centuries. 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

This research project investigates the role of trust in networks and institutions used by international merchants in Bruges and Antwerp in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Assuming two types of trust, i.e. relational and institutional, this research wants to determine whether trust became (relatively) obsolete when new legal institutions and rules arose that are said to have facilitated commercial transactions between international traders.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Art auctions between culture and economy. Consumption and distribution of paintings in Antwerp and Brussels (1700-1800). 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

In this project the goal is to present an explanation for the remarkable success of art auctions as a channel for cultural consumption and distribution in the age of Enlightenment. The research questions revolve around the socio-cultural and economic conditions that allowed the auction circuit to have such an impact on contemporary culture in an era of rapidly changing fashions and the rise of the retail sector and the project will relate the growth of the art-auction phenomenon to the broader context of Antwerp and Brussels, reflecting on the value and meaning of second-hand art and 'old' objects.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Female networking in Antwerp during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, "hidden" social capital? 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

The research project that Ellen Decraene is currently working on is entitled "Female networking in Antwerp during the 17th and 18th centuries" and has as main aim is to integrate the gender perspective in studies of social capital. It will try to trace the impact of social, economic and religious evolutions on the normative and practical access to women's networks, both formal and informal. More specifically, the way female social relations responded to changes in women's labour possibilities, changes in social status and the supposed rise of the ideal of domesticity, will be examined. Until recently, historians often tended to maintain the dichotomy of the female private sphere as opposed to the male public sphere. In contrast, this research covers female as well as male networks. By incorporating questions about the role of marriage on female networks and about the boundaries between male and female networks the male-female dichotomy is transcended, which opens the way for new insights into the role of gender in the production of social capital.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Partition, Change and Continuity in 17th century chorographies in the Netherlands. 01/10/2008 - 30/06/2009

Abstract

The project analyses the development of different historiographical conventions in the writings of chorographies in the Netherlands in the 17th century. It discusses the different representations of the past in urban and regional chorographical studies in the light of the war and partition in a synchronic and diachronic way highlighting changes within different regions and towns as well as across the newly established border.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

International trade and economic development in the Austrian Netherlands, 1760-1790. 01/07/2008 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

With this research we intend to study the impact foreign trade exerted upon the eighteenth-century economic development of the Austrian Netherlands. On the basis of documents generated by the Council of Finance (Department of Custom Duties) a comprehensive reconstruction and interpretation of the foreign trade and foreign trade policy is envisaged.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Circulation of knowledge in the Low Countries. Flows of technical knowledge in the western core-area of the Low Countries between c. 1400 and 1700. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

The aim of this project is to examine how technical knowledge circulated in the Low countries between 1400 and 1700, how the volume and mode of this circulation changed, and what socio-economic, political, cultural and institutional circumstances effected this. The project involves four cities (Haarlem and Rotterdam in the North, and Antwerp and Ghent in the South) and three economic sectors (textile finishing, woodprocessing and silver and goldsmithing.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The sociabilization of a tradition of democratic government: in search of the origin of our contemporary political culture. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

The aim of this research project is to collect data of the annual elected urban officials. The power of this database is the combination of simple, but fragmented information, i.c. the names of civil servants during a long period of five centuries (1300-1800). These data have to support a research into the long term evolution of democratical traditions of government in the Netherlands.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Van Dijck Maarten

Research team(s)

The making of the Western Scheldt. A historical analysis of the transformation of the Western Scheldt estuary from peat river to international trade route (ca. 1000 -ca. 1500) 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

The creation of the Western Scheldt as most important estuary of the river Scheldt during the medieval period (ca. 1000-ca. 15000) is a significant but largely unknown example of large-scale transformation of estuaries caused by men. Using cartographic evidence from the 15th to the 20th century to reconstruct the Western Scheldt in a GIS, this project wants to stimulate the interdisciplinary research on the long-run evolution of estuaries.

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Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens (1823-1881) and the foundation of the École de Musique religieuse de Malines. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens (1823-1881) was not only a famous organist, but also the founding father of the École de Musique religieuse de Malines: an historical figure who subsequently underwent a certain amount of mystification. This research project focuses on Lemmens' motivations to found this school for religious music and aims to place this in a larger political, historical and artistic context.

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Data infrastructure for the study of guilds and other forms of corporate collective action in pre-industrial times 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

The research aims to coordinate, harmonize and broaden the work on systematic data sets of guilds, in order to facilitate international comparative study of the rise and development of these corporate bodies in the centuries before the Industrial Revolution.

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Architecture and construction of urban palaces with courtyard in Antwerp (1450-1650): an interdisciplinary approach. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

The project aims at reconstructing an exact inventory of the architecture and urban planning for a specific architectural type, the urban palace with courtyard (and Tuscan arcade). It wants to identify patterns by which the influence of the Italian Renaissance entered the architecture of Antwerp and the Low Countries in the course of the long 16th century. The project wants to assess also the crucial role of the middling groups in urban society in these patterns of dissemination of the Renaissance.

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Consumer changes and church music in Antwerp, 1650-1750. 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

This innovative and discipline-transcending research project, combining urban history, musicology and performance practice, aims to track down the interaction between shifting consumers patterns and the Antwerp mass compositions from the (High) Baroque. The interdisciplinary approach will generate new findings regarding processes of composition, performance, consumption and reception of music, in the context of European music history.

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Women's work in the Southern Netherlands during the early modern period (case-studies Antwerp, Ghent and Mons). 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2010

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Socio-economic inequality revisited. A long-term and comparative analysis: Flanders and Brabant, 15th-18th centuries. 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

"The stratification of society, and its relation to patterns of economic growth, sociability and culture, is one of the most important objects of study in disciplines as sociology, economics and history. Yet to this date we still have surprisingly little empirical evidence on the evolution of social inequalities during the pre-industrial period. This research project aims to gain insight in what economic inequalities looked like during the early-modern period in the Southern Netherlands, and how it interacted with social, cultural and political inequalities and transformations that took shape within this timeframe. The results should offer a historical viewpoint and contextualization for the sociological and economic literature on present-day inequalities, as well as a social framework to contextualize some of the major cultural, social and economic transformation that took place from the 15th to the 18th centuries."

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From bishop to witch: the religious and mental world of ordinary people in the diocese of Antwerp, 16th-17th century. 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

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Craft guilds under pressure: political and discursive strategies around social capital in sixteenth-century Antwerp. 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

In this project, there will be explored how the 'civil society' of 16th century Antwerp reacted on the increasing tensions within the urban community. In the course of the 16th century Antwerp experienced major transformations, i.e. a further orientation towards a 'modern' (merchant) capitalism and a growing political impact of the central state on a local level. The consequences for the urban community were disturbing, i.e. proletarianisation, massive immigration etc. The question is how the 'middling sort of people' (through their corporative organizations) responded to these tensions politically and ideologically. Did they try to defend or create 'social capital', and if so, what strategies did they use?

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Conflicting pasts. Historical consciousness in discourse and representations of urban groups at the end of the Ancient Régime (Antwerp, 1748-1815). 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

By way of the study of historical practices, this investigation seeks to draw attention on historical consciousness as it was experienced and generated within society. To make an abstract category as 'historical consciousness' more concrete, the focus will lie on the implicit or explicit use of historical discourses in daily practice. The early modern city presents itself as an interesting context. Various groups of inhabitants tried to legitimate their positions and ideas about society by making an appeal to stories about their pasts. By tracing the different uses of these stories, we can try to understand their position towards and their way of experiencing history. Two main questions will be asked: 1) how did various groups within society make use of the past, both towards each other and towards the central government. 2) How did perceptions of the past and historical consciousness change under influence of structural transformations within society in the second half of the 18th century?

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Broadening the 'spatial turn': real estate, annuities and the rise of the Antwerp market in de late Middle Ages (ca 1390-ca 1430). 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

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Art and luxury consumption as a social strategy in the tensionfield between court, aristocracy and the middle class? A study on fashion and taste in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Brussels. 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

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Medical knowledge in conflict. Circulation, transfer and transformation of non-academic medical practitioners' knowledge in the Southern Netherlands (1540-1815). 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2008

Abstract

In practice, four paths of research will be followed: 1. The evolution of medical-practical knowledge in general. What was the most important way of knowlege: theoretical or practical? Were there some specific codifications to be understood? Were the subjects of the transfered knowledge confidential or more public ones? 2. In which way knowledge circulated / was transfered? The so-called middlemen played an important role? How did theoretical and practical knowledge circulated? What was the importance of human beings, books, illustrations, shemes, ... in their role as mediums? 3. Did education matter in the spread of knowledge? Was there an evolution of informal education structures to more formal channels? Can we recognize a clear (linear?) evolution during the Early Modern Times? What forms / styles of examinations must the apprentices (or students) pass in order to obtain there official degree? 4. What kind of effects gave the institutional transformations during the Early Modern Time on the changes in medical knowledge? What was the reason for the rise of medical colleges during the seventeenth and eighteenth centrury? Was there a parallel / connection between the cancelling of the guilds in 1795 and the foundation of the obstretical or chirurgical schools at the end of the eighteenth century?

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Top pieces and the art of inheriting. De Fraula collection (1690-1738) revisited. 01/07/2007 - 01/10/2008

Abstract

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Visual communication and Counter-Reformation in Antwerp: 1566-1801. 01/06/2007 - 31/08/2007

Abstract

The project is to write the first general book on Counter Reformation art in Antwerp. The underlying thesis argues that viual persuasion was instrumental to the establisment of the Roman Catholic Church at the center of South Netherlands society in opposition to the Protestant North Netherlands just a few miles across the border. Chapters will reconstruct the major innovations and changes that implemented this process during more than two hundred years.

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Educational historico-cultural project "Cornelis Kiliaan and the naissance of the Dutch dictionary". 01/03/2007 - 30/11/2007

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The nerve of the war? Money and logistics in the Revolt of the Low Countries (1567-1590). 01/02/2007 - 30/11/2007

Abstract

The aim of this project is to shed light on the manner the authorities in the rebel provinces attempted to meet the enormous cost of the war against King Philip II. Most money raised was intended to pay for their troops, professional soldiers who also required large amounts of food, ammunition, horses etc. Research into these matters can help to explain why the Revolt succeeded in the northern provinces, whilst Flanders and Brabant were retaken by the King's army. The finance of the war by the loyal provinces will function as a frame of reference where possible.

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City and society in the Low Countries 1200-1800: space, knowledge, social capital. 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Federal Public Service. UA provides the Federal Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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The image of the city. Visual representation of cities and urban identity in the late medieval and early modern Low Countries (15th - 16th century). 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2010

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Printing Press Production and Publishing Strategies in Antwerp (1585-1648). 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

This study wants to investigate what role printers and booksellers played in the transfer of early modern culture. The printer-bookseller is here not that much presented as a literate idealist who saw the printing press as a means to distribute knowledge, but as a pragmatic craftsman and trader, driven primarly by business motives. A better understanding of this business aspect can clarify the role the printer/publisher/bookseller played in the communication process.

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Spinning the international web: the business community in Antwerp during the nineteenth century. 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

In this project there will be examined how international webs of business relations were built, how they functioned and which role they played in international economic transactions during an important momentum for international trade. By analysing the international webs of the business elite in the port town of Antwerp during the nineteenth century we hope to develop a more adequate typology of networks and to reinforce our knowledge of the cosmopolitan merchant community in Europe.

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Bridging the gap: problems of coordination, tools of trade and the organization of international commerce in late medieval European cities. 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

This book project wants to bring a fundamental contribution to our knowledge of late medieval commercial systems. Experts of the subject will be united in a publication in order to make an inventory of the problems of coordination and the solutions for such problems which the traders were able to develop. Their efficiency in this period of fundamental change will be assessed. The geographical focus of the volume will be the important trading cities of Northwest Europe.

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"Minstrel music". Study of the origin, nature and performance of a forgotten music repertoire in the Southern Netherlands (ca. 1650-1830). 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

This research project focuses on the so-called "minstrel music" (Speelman music), an important part of folk music in Flanders, and puts the spotlight on this underexposed segment of the Flemish musical heritage. This is done in an innovative, interdisciplinary, contextual and combined scientific-artistic manner. Via the study of historical and musical sources and interaction with creative performers new scientific and artistic insights will be gained into the origin, composition, function and performance of this repertoire.

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At the fringes of modernity? Commercial recycling in an age of transformation, ca. 1750- ca. 1850. 01/10/2006 - 30/09/2009

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Travel culture of the Netherlands (1650-1750). A research into the dialectical relation between travel literature and travel practices and the effect on the rise and dynamics of the European touristic field. 01/10/2006 - 30/09/2008

Abstract

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Social inequality and mobility during the long sixteenth century: Bois-le-Duc and its "Meierij". 01/10/2006 - 30/09/2008

Abstract

Historical interest in the dynamics of social inequalities has been strangely underdeveloped. Especially as to the late medieval and early modern Low Countries, surprisingly little is known on patterns of social and economic mobility on the household level within its numerous cities. Armed with a number of exceptional sources, this project hopes to further our understanding of the inequalities and mobilities of a typical ancien régime town, as well as their processes of (re)production. Intergenerational transfers of resources will occupy a key place in the analysis and theories brought into play.

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Art auctions between culture and economics. Consumption and distribution of paintings in 18th-century Antwerp and Brussels. 01/10/2006 - 30/09/2008

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A contextual text-critical study of Bach's harpsichord works. 01/10/2006 - 30/09/2007

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Revising the Dutch Revolt: Antwerp and the Netherlands. 01/09/2006 - 30/06/2007

Abstract

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Social capital in Antwerp craft guilds, 16th century. 01/07/2006 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

In this project, there will be explored how the 'civil society' of 16th century Antwerp reacted on the increasing tensions within the urban community. In the course of the 16th century Antwerp experienced major transformations, i.e. a further orientation towards a 'modern' (merchant) capitalism and a growing political impact of the central state on a local level. The consequences for the urban community were disturbing, i.e. proletarianisation, massive immigration etc. The question is how the 'middling sort of people' (through their corporative organizations) responded to these tensions politically and ideologically. Did they try to defend or create 'social capital', and if so, what strategies did they use?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

From bishop to witch: the religious and mental world of ordinary people in the diocese of Antwerp, 16th-17th century. 01/07/2006 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

This project ¿ a case study on the diocese of Antwerp - focuses upon the processes of religious change in the early modern period. Important research questions deal with the religious and mental world of ordinary people and with the impact of the Catholic Tridentine reform program. At the methodological level, a dynamic communication perspective will be used.

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Religious Wars at Home? The Advent and Challenge of Confessionally Mixed Families. 22/05/2006 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

The project deals with the theme of religious division, conversion and tolerance by analysing a casestudy from the 17th-century Low Countries. The papers left by Jacob Roelants, son of a Dutch Reformed minister, Catholic convert and eventually a Jesuit, allow to study this complex problem at the level of a concrete family.

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Publication of the book B. De Munck, Learning guilds practices Apprenticeship in Antwerp from the 15th century to the end of the ancien régime (Turnhout, Brepols, 2006). 01/03/2006 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

The resources of this project will be used to publish the book B. De Munck, Learning guild practices. Apprenticeship in Antwerp from the 15th century to the end of the ancien régime. The book is the result of research based on the FWO-project Jongeren tussen opleiding en werk in Brabantse en Vlaamse steden, 1500-1800: sociale, culturele en economische aspecten, that was finished between 1998 and 2002 under the supervision of Prof. dr. Hugo Soly (VUB). The financial resources will go to the translation of the work in English as well as to the lay out.

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The integration of artisan-immigrants into urban labour markets: the duchy of Brabant from c. 1450 to c. 1800 (case-studies: Antwerp and Brussels). 01/01/2006 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

The aim of this project is to conduct a comprehensive study of opportunities for immigration and integration of artisans in cities during the early modern period. We have opted to combine regional and local perspectives, addressing both interactions between cities and specific changes within cities, branches of industry, and occupations. The chief focus will be a review of several varieties of artisans who migrated to the main cities of the Duchy of Brabant between ca. 1450 and ca. 1800, with elaborate case studies of Antwerp and Brussels. This extended chronological perspective serves to transcend business cycles and gain insight into structural transitions of an economic, political-institutional and/or cultural nature.

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Towards a new symbiosis of space, light, color and perspective in architecture and fine arts during the seventeenth century: the early Jesuit Churches in the Duchy of Brabant (1613-70). 01/01/2006 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

This research project deals with a confrontation between sciences (optics, perspective theory) and arts (architecture, paintings and sculpture) during the first half of the seventeenth century in the Southern Netherlands. The central question is how Jesuits (as scientists and as architects) have contributed to a new interpretation of architectural space, thanks to their collaboration with very famous artists as P.P. Rubens and several others.

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Research team(s)

Consumer changes and church music in Antwerp's 'dark age', 1650-1750. 01/01/2006 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

This project will examine musical life in Antwerp in the period 1650-1750 in the context of its broader cultural and historical framework. Essential is the application of an innovative interdisciplinary methodology, on the basis of hitherto insufficiently studied source material (music and archives) and in close collaboration with experts in historical performance practice, in order to gain new insights in the genesis, performance, consumption and reception of mass compositions in Antwerp in the age of the high baroque.

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Research team(s)

19th century corporatism and conservation practice. A comparison of the discourse on "corporatism" and workshop practices (case study: stained glass workshop of J.B. de Béthune). 01/01/2006 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

This project concerns the relation between the 19th century discourse on corporatism and the conservation practice of the involved workshops. Starting from the situation of craftmanship in the late 18th century, the organisation and production of the gothic revival workshops are studied. The activities of 'Béthune', and in particular his stained glass workshop, are focussed in this project and will be compared with other examples of corporatistic organised workshops in Belgium and outside, at the occasion of a congres.

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Research team(s)

Social and economic inequalities in the Southern Low Countries, 15th-18th centuries. Towards an interdisciplinary analysis of measurement and (re-) assessment of social inequalities in pre-industrial societies. 01/10/2005 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

Social Inequality research of the Southern Low Countries, 15th-18th centuries is marked by the use of a deficient methodology and the absence of both long term and comparative research approaches. The major goal of this research project lies a) in the accommodation and application of social inequality measurements in historical research, b) a reassessment of the existing insights related to preindustrial social inequality.

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Art and luxury consumption in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Brussels. The dialectic interplay between court, nobility and the urban middling sort of people. 01/10/2005 - 30/09/2007

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Art auctions: between old glory and new fashions. Cultural consumption and distribution during the eighteenth century, case study Antwerp and Brussels. 01/05/2005 - 30/04/2009

Abstract

The goal of this research project is to present an explanation for the remarkable success of art auctions as a channel for cultural consumption and distribution in the age of Enlightenment: what were the socio-cultural and economic conditions that allowed the auction circuit to have such an impact on contemporary culture in an era of rapidly changing fashions and the rise of the retail sector?

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Project website

Research Director of the N.W. Posthumus Institute-program "Economy and Society of the Low Countries before 1850". 01/02/2005 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

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Early Modern Public Opinion. Patterns, mechanisms and actors in processes of opinion- and decision-making in the Northern and Southern Netherlands in the early modern period. 01/01/2005 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

This project examines the interaction between public opinion and the political decision making process in the Low Countries of the late 16th century. The focus will be on two comparative casestudies on Antwerp and Amsterdam. These cities were important commercial centers and were touched by a number of questions caused by the Dutch Revolt: the religious problem, the issue of souvereignty and the problem of migration.

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Technical Prescriptions and Legislation for Craftsmen in the Southern Netherlands during the 16th, 17th and 18th Century. An archival and material-technical confrontation. Part 2: The glaziers 01/01/2005 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

The aim of this project is to look for and to collect a diversity of technical prescriptions and legislation concerning arts and crafts. These prescriptions will be confronted with scientific research on the material and technical characteristics of artefacts made by artisans. As a case study this confrontation will be focused on the glaziers craft. Next to the first scientific results, the outcome of the project will be a systematised amount of archival data and images available for further research at both the UA and the HA.

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Research team(s)

Travel culture of the Netherlands (1650-1750). A research into the dialectical relation between travel literature and travel practices and the effect on the rise and dynamics of the European touristic field. 01/10/2004 - 30/09/2006

Abstract

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Consumer changes and commercial circuits. Changing consumer preferences and retail dynamics of a city in `crisis. Antwerp, ca. 1648-ca. 1748. 01/10/2004 - 30/09/2006

Abstract

This project focuses on the retailing and the consuming of durable consumables in early modern Antwerp. It tackles retail and consumer (r)evolutions simultaneously, thus seeing them as different sides of the same development Antwerp went through in the 17th and 18th centuries. The major goal of this project is to demonstrate that we can only fully understand early modern retail changes (both from a qualitative and quantitative viewpoint) when simultaneously consumer changes are taken into account. For making this claim three distinct changes in the buying of home-goods will be analyzed, thus considering their impact on retailing: (1) The growing dependence on fashion (2) The growing diversity in goods (3) The slackening durability of goods

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Research team(s)

Technical Prescriptions and Legislation for Craftsmen in the Southern Netherlands during the 16th, 17th and 18th Century. An archival and material-technical confrontation. Part 1 : The glaziers. 01/02/2004 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

The aim of this project is to look for and to collect a diversity of technical prescriptions and legislation concerning arts and crafts. These prescriptions will be confronted with scientific research on the material and technical characteristics of artefacts made by artisans. As a case study this confrontation will be focused on the glaziers craft. Next to the first scientific results, the outcome of the project will be a systematised amount of archival data and images available for further research at both the UA and the HA.

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Research team(s)

Morphological research into the re-use of confiscated land in a numer of cities in the Low Countries (1576-1640): empiricism, innovation and theory. 01/02/2004 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

Research into the rational re-use of confiscated land in the innertown districts of several cities in the Low Countries during the Calvanist period. Influences of innovative planning practices on the theory of modern urban planning. Cities studied in this morphological research are Antwerp, Ghent, Malines, Amsterdam, Haarlem and Leiden.

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Printing press production and publishing strategies after the Fall of Antwerp.The case of Hieronymus I and Hieronymus II Verdussen (1585-1653) 01/01/2004 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

In the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, Antwerp was the pre-eminent book production and distribution centre in the Southern Netherlands. The printing house of Plantin and the Moretuses was a match for any of the large printing establishments elsewhere in Europe. This project intends to explore the position of the lesser known but equally expansive publishing firm of Verdussen, particularly in the first half-century of its existence: which segments of the market did it try to reach and how did it succeed in gaining a foothold in the Antwerp book production industry?

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Simons Ludo

Research team(s)

Research in the field of Social, Economic and Cultural History of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. 01/10/2003 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

Research in Social, Economic and Cultural History of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period.

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The development of scientific expertise for the socio-economic history of the early modern period. 01/10/2003 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

The creation of licentiate degrees in the History programme at the UA necessitates vital investments in the supporting scientific expertise. The next few years insistent efforts will be undertaken in order to position the History Department and the ensuing library in the forefront of the national and international historical context of pertinent domains as socio-economic history of the early modern period, European ethnology, history of crafts, trades and labour and so on.

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Innovation and communication during the late Middle Ages: a new approach of the social, economic and cultural history of the Middle Ages. 01/10/2003 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

Research will focus on the historical dimension of innovation and communication in economic behavior. In particular the late medieval practices of international trade and industrial production will be analyzed in order to confront them with the fundamental processes at the crossroads of economy, cultural behaviour and social organization.

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Guide-books published in the Netherlands (1600-1800). Research into the dialectical relation between travel literature and travel practises and its influence on the genesis and the dynamics of the European tourist area. 01/10/2003 - 30/09/2004

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Consumers, commercial circuits and urban transformations in an age of crisis. Retailing in Antwerp and Brussels (ca. 1648 - ca. 1748). 15/10/2002 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

This research wishes to embark on an investigation into the 'consumer sensitive' retailing sector in the period of transformation 1648-1748. The objective is to trace the impact of changing taste and fashion on the urban decline of Antwerp and Brussels. The central research question of this project is concerned with the strategies in which local retailing circuits in Antwerp and Brussels have influenced and reacted to the social-economic recesses in the 'age of crisis'. Possible questions are, for instance: in what ways did retailers of all kinds (varying from shopkeepers to wandering peddlers) went along with the changes in fashion and taste among urban consumers? Did the selling of fashionable products by the so-called "magasins à Paris", which flourished at that period, contribute to the economic weakening of Antwerp and Brussels? And what role did the urban consumers play in all this?

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Consumers and commercial circuits. Retailing and consumer durables in Antwerp and Brussels in the 'age of crisis' (ca. 1648 - 1748). 01/10/2002 - 30/09/2004

Abstract

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Urban society in the Low Countries (late Middle Ages - 16th century) 01/01/2002 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

The project aims at expanding the historical study of urban society in the Low Countries in both a chronological sense (by pushing the investigations further into the 16th century) and a geographical sense (by engaging a Dutch team). Research will cover the most urbanised core regions of the Low Countries (Flanders, Brabant, Hoilland and Hainaut) and will stress the comparative study of these regions (comparing them with other regions in the Low Countries and Europe)

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Mythological representations in Flemish art of the 17th century and their intellectual context. 01/01/2002 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

On the basis of an exhaustive catalogue raisonné of Rubens's mythological representations (some 130 entries) and of a list of further mythological themes with other Flemish painters of the 17th century, an in depth interpretation will be attempted of such representations of classical ("pagan") gods and goddesses. Hereby a distinction might prove relevant between the sort of audience to which such scenes were adressed: erudite humanists on the one hand, and burghers literate in the vernacular on the other. Where appropriate parallels will be drawn between the treatment of these gods in the arts and in Latin as well as Flemish and Dutch literature.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Balis Arnout
  • Co-promotor: Meeus Hubert
  • Co-promotor: Van der Stighelen Katlijne

Research team(s)

Examining the Organization of the Production of Illustrated Books in the Seventeenth Century and its Economic, Technical, and Artistic Aspects. 01/01/2002 - 31/12/2003

Abstract

This is a case study of the cooperative and self-serving working relationship maintained by the Plantin-Moretus Press and the Galle print atelier in the period 1600-1676 for the production of illustrated books. The goal will be to analyze the following: 1. The management and costs of the production of illustrated books; 2. The types of agreements independent businesses entered into in order to secure a successful production and distribution of their illustrated products; 3. The resulting impact on the formation of visual culture; 4. The role of Antwerp (and in particular that of the Plantin-Moretus Press and the Galle atelier) in the production and distribution of illustrated works in seventeenth-century Europe.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Thijs Alfons
  • Co-promotor: Balis Arnout

Research team(s)

"The sell-out of Antwerp". Mobility of seventeenth-century Flemish painting during the period 1640-1784. 01/10/2001 - 30/09/2004

Abstract

This project proposal departs from the observation that countless works of art by Flemish masters ended up in foreign collections during the Ancien Régime. This study seeks to document and analyze the mobility of works of art (the art trade), in addition to the migration of artists and style. To achieve this goal in a feasible manner, a database will be set up to gather and statistically analyze relevant statistical data relative to the export of paintings and the emigration of painters. Special attention will be devoted to auctions, which up to the present, have been quasi ignored in scholarship dealing with the Southern Netherlands. It goes without saying that this study requires an interdisciplinary approach; insight in the complexity of the dissemination of Flemish art during the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century can only be gained through an interaction of economic, art-historical and cultural models.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Balis Arnout
  • Fellow: Vermeylen Filip

Research team(s)

The Establishment of a Short-Title Catalogue, Flanders (STCV) 01/01/2000 - 31/12/2003

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Flemish Renaissance and Baroque art. 01/01/1997 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

Interdisciplinary co-ordination of Belgian and non-Belgian research projects related to the study of Flemish art in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is expected that the co-operating research units shall have the opportunity to meet with a certain regularity in order to compare and evaluate their methodologies.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Balis Arnout
  • Co-promotor: Van der Stighelen Katlijne
  • Co-promotor: Wouters Jan

Research team(s)

Labour, labour relations and labour markets in Western Europe, 1500-2000. 01/01/1996 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

The principal aim is to throw new light on the changes that have occurred in labour processes, labour relations and labour markets since the sixteenth century, with special reference to (1) periods of global societal transformation, and (2) urban wage-earners and self-employed artisans/shopkeepers.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)