Ongoing projects

To fight at the margins: the history of women in boxing and lucha libre in Mexico (1930-2000). 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

This research project examines the participation of women in boxing and the wrestling sport of lucha libre in Mexico between 1930 and 2000. It responds to the relative lack of academic attention for the complex mechanisms and effects of gender transgressions by women (i.e. women taking up roles that have culturally been coded as masculine), which have served as motors for historical change and emancipation. My innovative approach confronts the findings from a more conventional historical research practice based on newspaper and archival sources with the qualitative analysis of narratives obtained from oral history interviews, which allows me to investigate both the socio-cultural constructions that impacted women's involvement in boxing and wrestling in Mexico, and the ways in which individual women experienced and navigated such discourses. Central attention is paid to the relations of power in the field of boxing and lucha libre in Mexico, and how these are tied up with gender, ethnicity, social class and commercialisation. This enables me to move beyond the dichotomy within current academic debates about women in combat sports in the Anglo-American and European context, that either constructs this participation as a form of liberation or, due to its perceived sexualisation, as a continued form of exploitation. This project provides new insights about discourses of self-sexualisation, employs an intersectional approach, and decentralises western perspectives in history.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

(In)formal Diplomatic Networks and State Legitimation in the Premodern Islamic World: Mahmud Gawan (Bahmani vizier, 1463-1481) and the International Society. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

While it has long been recognized that the premodern Islamic world (until ca.1500) following the fall of the Abbasid Caliphate (1258) was knitted together through trade networks, cultural connections, and a shared religion, political fragmentation still prevails in most scholarly narratives. The project here proposed postulates that there were also common political practices, allowing for an "international society" to emerge, most visible in its practice of diplomacy. In this, the project builds on recent work in political and new diplomatic history that has moved away from focuses on conquest and the head of state, in favour of an interest in state formation, legitimacy and the role of a wider set of political/diplomatic agents. Though it is well-known that patronage of certain individuals was a common tactic of the court to enhance its prestige and claims to power in processes of state formation, it has so far been understudied how the networks of these personae could actively serve in a state's search for legitimacy. This project thus investigates the interlinkage of diplomacy, legitimacy and (in)formal networks in the premodern Islamic world. Concretely, it does so through the analysis of the diplomatic letters in Persian and Arabic of the vizier Mahmud Gawan (r. 1463-1481), a premodern example of the networking politician, and how they served in attempts to advance diplomatically the Bahmani Sultanate's (Deccan, South Asia) legitimacy claims.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

"Tell me about your East". Noble European travel narratives and the representation of the Islamic World in the late Middle Ages. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2023

Abstract

Lands of marvels and wonders, lands of spices and treasures, the East has always fascinated medieval minds. The accounts left by Marco Polo or other Western travelers have greatly contributed to those Eastern constructions and myths. But along this fascination, the East also often appeared as threatening: it is the land of Islam, the land of the enemy. A binary vision of the Other — religious or barbaric other — was thus the result. The milieu of clerics and intellectuals has always been given a prime role in the medieval othering process of Islam, yet this to the detriment of other groups. Indeed, many people, usually travelers, have also described their own experience and encounters with the East; contributing in this way to the understanding of West-East/Christian-Muslim relations. If antagonistic representations remain important in these narratives, other elements also appear. The development and construction of these representations is however not properly studied yet. It is therefore important to add these travel accounts — and the tradition to which they belong— to the more theoretical consideration of intellectuals and clerics. Among these travelers, the case of the late medieval nobility is particularly interesting. Indeed, those men, who were close to the power, have produced a whole range of literature informing us of their travels to the East and encounters with Islam. Because of their leading role in society — not in the least their military identity and their involvement in new crusading ideas — their narratives may have had a deeper impact on the way that Europe came to terms with the Islamic Other. The project proposes to investigate travel accounts by late medieval nobles in three distinct political constellations, and to analyze their potential impact on later developments of European discourse on Islam.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Post-Communist Sexualities: Social Construction of Homosexual Male Identities in Bulgaria. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

Homosexual practices were completely outlawed in Bulgaria under socialism and they were prosecuted by the communist state. After 1989, the issue of homosexuality entered public discourse but support for homosexuality, and in particular male homosexuality, encountered strong resistance from the mainstream media. This resistance was driven by the homophobic attitudes of political and religious elites, which resulted in high levels of discrimination and abuse against sexual minorities and a lack of political will and measures to address these issues. Ironically, the expansion of the EU in 2007 shifted the perspective on homosexuality, confronting the Bulgarian government with numerous issues in the process of transposing the EU directives regarding the rights of LGBTQ people. Challenging certain theories which do not pay attention to the regional specificities in the process of construction of homosexual identities, this study will be one of the first to explore the social construction of homosexual male identities in Bulgaria and it will make an important contribution to the existing literature on the topic of gay identities. Using oral histories and semi structured in-depth interviews, the main objective of the study is to investigate the social construction of homosexual male identities, focusing on the experiences and the exigencies have been faced by three generations of gay men in Bulgaria. These include (a) Bulgaria's socialist past, (b) the enlargement of the EU in 2007, and (c) global processes, the Internet and social media. Furthermore, the study promises to challenge the existing concepts of gay identity, gay community and gay activism by investigating to what extent Western notions of gay identity and gay community are relevant in the Bulgarian context and how these notions have been experienced on a local level.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Credit for the Libraries in Social and Human Sciences (Faculty of Arts). 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2021

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)

Hunting for Ambition: The Royal Hunt and the Representation of Power at the Court of Savoy. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Influenced by anthropology and the 'performative turn' in social sciences, historians and political analysts alike have begun to reconsider notions of 'authority'. Sovereignty is now understood to be a continuous activity of claim making. As a result, the on-going performance of power can be studied through seemingly trivial activities. If any of these deserves to be studied from that perspective, it is most certainly the princely hunt. It would even be difficult to conceive of something more apt to reach a deeper understanding of the performance of sovereignty. The means allotted to the hunt offer an instrument to measure the levels of investment in – and therefore the long-term evolution of – that performance. They not only show how royal magnificence was constructed time and again; they also reveal how the symbolic violence exercised by the princely hunt encountered resistance. By studying the evolution of one royal hunt over a long period of time, this project has the ambition to deliver a new interpretation of the performance of sovereignty. In order to do so, it will develop a novel instrument to quantify the way the hunt served to enact power. In parallel with the FWO-project on the Habsburg Netherlands, it focuses on the states of the House of Savoy for two reasons: the unusual quality of the primary sources and the dynasty's ambitions and changes in status between the middle of the sixteenth and the end of the eighteenth century.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

On the Trail of Power: The Royal Hunt and the Performance of Sovereignty. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Influenced by anthropology and the 'performative turn' in social sciences, historians and political analysts alike have begun to reconsider notions of 'authority'. Sovereignty is now understood to be a continuous activity of claim making. As a result, the on-going performance of power can be studied through seemingly trivial activities. If any of these deserves to be studied from that perspective, it is most certainly the princely hunt. It would even be difficult to conceive of something more apt to reach a deeper understanding of the performance of sovereignty. The means allotted to the hunt offer an instrument to measure the levels of investment in – and therefore the long-term evolution of – that performance. They not only show how royal magnificence was constructed time and again; they also reveal how the symbolic violence exercised by the princely hunt encountered resistance. By studying the evolution of one royal hunt over a long period of time, this project has the ambition to deliver a new interpretation of the performance of sovereignty. In order to do so, it will develop a novel instrument to quantify the way the hunt served to enact power. It focuses on the Habsburg Netherlands for two reasons: the unusual quality of the primary sources and the multiple variations in its political regime between the early sixteenth and the end of the eighteenth century.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Texts~Buildings: dissecting Transpositions in Architectural Knowledge (1880-1980). 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

A multidisciplinary network of experts and research groups that will explore the sites and expressions of 'knowledge transpositions' that occur between the intellectual production taking place in different disciplines and the culture, writing and practice of architecture, looking at how cross-polinating 'nomadic' concepts rearranged architectural knowledge. Het network will primarily focus on three specific fora: architectural education and training, building-related bureaucracy and literary imagination.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Past projects

Research coordination for the realisation of scientific goals of the Rubenianum 01/03/2019 - 29/02/2020

Abstract

This project is the foundation of the collaboration between the Rubenianum and the University of Antwerp. Toward that end, it enables Abigail Newman to work as Research Adviser at the Rubenianum – alongside her position as part time instructor (with a ZAP statute) at the University of Antwerp – in order to pursue a number of scholarly initiatives. First and foremost, she is carrying out the editing – both the selection of contributions and the substantive editing – of a thematic volume on artistic collaboration in the Low Countries in the 16th and 17th centuries. She is also responsible for writing the introduction to this volume. In addition, she organizes various programs at the Rubenianum aimed at the sharing of research currently underway, including an inter-university Rubenianum Works-in-Progress Workshop (the first edition of which was held on 20.2.2020; the second edition is scheduled for 19.6.2020) as well as research presentations by and for researchers based at the Rubenianum. She is also involved in the planning of summer courses. More broadly, she advises on the Rubenianum's development of research-related projects and initiatives. In that capacity, she oversees the monthly Visiting Researchers' meeting, presently with a group of five international researchers (from five different countries). She also serves as their contact person and internal supervisor.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Capitalist globalization and 'Small Power' diplomacy in the Ottoman Empire. A comparative history of Belgian, Italian, and U.S. consuls (1823-1912). 01/01/2019 - 30/06/2019

Abstract

This project offers a revisionist history of Western diplomacy in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire. Whereas most studies focus on the 'Great Powers,' this research centers on the U.S.A., Belgium and Italy. Analyzing the role of these 'secondary' states' consuls in furthering foreign trade in the Empire will reveal the Ottoman encounter with Western capital to have been far more conflicted and transnational than usually assumed.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

(In)formal Diplomatic Networks and State Legitimation in the Premodern Islamic World: Mahmud Gawan (Bahmani vizier, 1463-1481) and the International Society. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

While it has long been recognized that the premodern Islamic world (until ca.1500) following the fall of the Abbasid Caliphate (1258) was knitted together through trade networks, cultural connections, and a shared religion, political fragmentation still prevails in most scholarly narratives. The project here proposed postulates that there were also common political practices, allowing for an "international society" to emerge, most visible in its practice of diplomacy. In this, the project builds on recent work in political and new diplomatic history that has moved away from focuses on conquest and the head of state, in favour of an interest in state formation, legitimacy and the role of a wider set of political/diplomatic agents. Though it is well-known that patronage of certain individuals was a common tactic of the court to enhance its prestige and claims to power in processes of state formation, it has so far been understudied how the networks of these personae could actively serve in a state's search for legitimacy. This project thus investigates the interlinkage of diplomacy, legitimacy and (in)formal networks in the premodern Islamic world. Concretely, it does so through the analysis of the diplomatic letters in Persian and Arabic of the vizier Mahmud Gawan (r. 1463-1481), a premodern example of the networking politician, and how they served in attempts to advance diplomatically the Bahmani Sultanate's (Deccan, South Asia) legitimacy claims.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Sabbatical leave 2018-2019 Prof. Beyen 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

This sabbatical leave is intended to finish three ongoing publication projects: 1) "De taal van de geschiedenis" [The language of history], a handbook for the course Geschiedenis & Taal, but at the same time a practical treatise for everyone wanting to apply discourse analysis to written historical sources and anyone writing about history. 2) "The Parisians and their Deputies. A Local History of National Politics, 1880-1930", an academic monograph about the direct interactions between 'ordinary Parisian citizens and their députés, based primarly on letters written by these citizens. 3) "Het volkerentijdperk? Een politieke geschiedenis van de wereld sinds 1776" [The era of the people(s)?. A political history of the world since 1776", a handbook for the course Nieuwste Tijd: Politek en Instellingen, but at the same time reflexive synthesis intended for a broader audience on the paradoxes of democratic ambitions and political practices in the world since the era of the Atlantic Revolutions.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Consuls between the Nation and Global Capital: A Comparative History of Belgian, Italian, and U.S. Economic Diplomacy in Ottoman Salonika, 1823–1912. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

This project centers on Western economic diplomacy in the Ottoman Empire during the long 19th century, an era of capitalist globalization. Most of the scholarship privileges macro-historical approaches and overemphasizes the roles of the so-called five Great Powers to the detriment of other states with which the Ottomans maintained intense economic and diplomatic relations. This project proposes a comparative micro-history of three aspiring powers whose relationships with the Ottoman Empire have rarely been studied, namely Belgium, Italy and the United States. It examines the mediating roles of their consular representatives in furthering foreign trade, finance and investments in the seaport of Salonika, the Empire's main industrial center. Calling attention to this powerful (but neglected) group of local go-betweens reveals the process of foreign capitalist penetration into the Ottoman lands to be more conflicted, contradictory and transnational than is usually surmised. Most consuls were deeply embedded in Ottoman urban society and had stakes in the banks, merchant houses and companies they advised. Microhistorical study shows that their interests were colored by conflicting allegiances across national boundaries and a concern to maintain and reinforce their local powerbases. Ignored in the literature, the study of these intermediaries, balancing on a tightrope between the nation and global capital, is crucial to complicate Euro-American interests in the Ottoman lands.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Honour Besieged? Marks of Nobility and the (Re)making of Social Order in the Habsburg Netherlands (1570-1650). 01/10/2018 - 31/05/2019

Abstract

The Dutch Revolt that afflicted the Habsburg Netherlands engendered a sense of social dislocation. From the late sixteenth century onwards, the alleged confusion of noble and bourgeois identities prompted a princely regulation of status display. These legal prescriptions imbued certain exterior signs with an exclusive 'noble' honour that confined their public appearance. Departing from a dynamic interplay between princely interventionism and social motives, this research project examines the public (mis)appropriation of such signs – ranging from flaunting titles to the inclusion of noble attributes in family memoria. It questions how these transgressions might have affected the division between nobility and commoners in unexpected ways. For the first time, this project systematically appraises noble marks' potential to enact or modify aristocratic boundaries in an urban context. Case studies on Antwerp and Ghent, both witnessing shifts in their elite composition during the Revolt, will draw on understudied sources such as epitaph collections and trial accounts. The loyalist city of Namur forms an excellent test case. Challenging a simplistic state-centered view, my approach hypothesizes that the social utility of 'marks of nobility' met insecurities about fading distinctions by providing a legal opportunity to renegotiate these very distinctions. As such, the project rethinks noble identity formation, and yields a new understanding of shifts in the social imagination.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Representation of female activists. The female body and resistance in the MENA region 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

This project focuses on influential female activists in Egypt, Tunisia and the Middle East. It examines the complexities of their identities, their modes of resistance and the politicized public spaces they 7 move in. It is a visual investigation into the representation of these Muslim women and their role, and more specifically the role of their bodies within the context of reform, resistance and revolution. Can images invite viewers to reconsider their preconceptions about women, politics, religion and personal identity? Is it possible to overwrite deeply ingrained existing stereotypes? These are only a few examples of questions that will be addressed. With knowledge of both Western and Eastern thought, this PhD project seeks to contribute and broaden the debate on representing Muslim women's struggles, sawing doubts about existing assumptions and on (mis)readings of cultural signs. Meanwhile it offers new artistic (re)presentations. Allowing more artistic experimentation such as photographic, audio and video montage and cross-media, will add a deeper subjective visual dimension to the existing work. New ways of displaying the work in various spaces will be examined. This extension will keep examining the so called boundaries between documentary image making and artistic image making. With a team of inspirational supervisors who have the necessary expertise, my goal is to realize visual installations and a book, backed by intensive literature and image study. This will be shared with students and peers through workshops, master classes, talks and screenings.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

'Performing with square and compass': 19th-­century Belgian masonic music and ritual as performed and studied through re-­enactment. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

This research projects aims to study nineteenth-century Belgian masonic music, in close relation with the rituals the compositions are meant to accompany. In this research, for the first time the focus is on the musical experience in an important organisation like that of the Freemasons, and also for the first time, the method of re-‐enactment is used to really capture the performative aspect of the musical performances and the experience of the masonic ritual. Through the creative method of re-enactment, which is also an important part of the artistic output of this project, not only the literal 'text' of this music and the corresponding ritual is read, but also the 'action', which can lead to new insights into the masonic music scene. In this manner, the creative capacities of staged performances, based on thorough historical research, are used to gain deeper insight into the use and the experience of nineteenth-century ritual masonic music.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Sabbatical - Henk de Smaele. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

This sabbatical leave (including a 6 month Visiting Fellowship at Birkbeck College, University of London) will be used to work on a monograph provisionally titled: A Political History of the Nude: Citizenship, Sexuality and the Body in the Modern West. Since the nineteenth century, images of the male nude have become exceptional in European mainstream visual culture, while representations of female nudity are widespread and have become generally accepted. The image of the desirable and passive woman fitted well into the general discourse on sex-differences and reinforced gender inequalities. Women were considered more beautiful and desirable but less independent and rational than men. Women were mistresses of the house, while men were at home on the forum and - if necessary - on the battlefield. It is however striking that the short periods of revival of the public male nude coincided with the resurgence of 'republican' (as opposed to 'liberal') political ideas. Male nudes were numerous in neoclassical history painting during the French Revolutionary era. They returned in the socialist art of the late nineteenth century, in the fascist and national-socialist propaganda of the 1930s. In these contexts, the nude male body was an image of strength, power and 'manliness'. Republicanism rarely contributed to the political emancipation of women however. Why then was the image of the male nude considered a threat in liberal political cultures, while it was favoured in republican cultures? What was the link between liberalism and the disappearance of the male body? And why was the naked citizen so crucial for republicans?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Peaceful Encounters in Premodern Islam. Theory and Practice of Diplomacy under the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517). 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

Long before the modern United Nations, rulers from all over the world established efficient means to communicate and interact: the exchanges of messengers. What were the reasons for sending messengers? On which basis did rulers interact and how? Which patterns ruled such exchanges? Against the common assumption of an "ancient" world dominated by wars and conquest, the present project aims to show how an international society emerged in the premodern Islamic world, one dominated by mutual recognition among rulers seeking to keep the peace and maintain privilege. Diplomacy, rather than war, became the norm and was facilitated by the development of a complex and dynamic set of rules recognized and understood by all participants. In order to understand this intriguing machinery, the project takes as starting point the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt and Syria (1250-1517)—a major actor in the premodern Islamic history—and scrutinizes the political, legal, administrative, and symbolic basis that ruled the patterns of diplomatic exchanges between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, on the one hand, and within the Muslim world itself, on the other. Based on original and unpublished material, the project will produce the first comprehensive narrative of diplomatic history in the premodern Islamic world.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Uprooted Childhoods: Practices of Transnational Child Displacements (Belgium, 1945-1980). 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

In the course of the 20th century, violent conflicts, ethnic struggle and humanitarian crises caused an extensive number of children being transferred from one country to another. Philanthropic and nationalist objectives, the children's 'best interests', but also a growing 'demand' from childless couples lay at the basis of these displacements. This project aims to investigate how post-war cases of transnational child displacements were organized in Belgium against the backdrop of international evolutions on thinking about childhood. It will study (from a transnational and postcolonial perspective) the consecutive waves of children who were relocated to Belgium. As such, the project will launch research on the history of transnational adoption and foster care, while at the same time it will improve our understanding of the ideologies of childhood and family, as well as nation and ethnic identity, in post-war Belgium.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Pink Perils and Postwar Blues. Homophobia and Early Cold War Culture in Western Europe (1945-1965). 01/10/2016 - 31/08/2020

Abstract

As has been demonstrated by recent research, a wave of homophobia known as the 'lavender scare' hit the United States in the aftermath of the Second World War. A similar lavender scare affected Western Europe during the early Cold War era, but to date no study exists that investigates (a) how it affected various European countries differently, (b) to what extent this was a transnational phenomenon galvanized by the growing Americanization of European society, and (c) in what ways it was related to broader social and cultural changes on both the national and the international level. Primarily using a combination of criminological and so-called 'homophile' journals emanating from a selection of West European countries (i.e. the Netherlands, Belgium, France, West-Germany, Switzerland and Austria), this project sets out to answer the question of how and why homosexuality became the focus of intensive scrutiny during the period between 1945 and 1965. By means of an NVivo-database, the aim is to develop an integrated picture of how the fear of homosexuals fitted within a broader array of fears that haunted societies destabilized by war and anxious to regain their equilibrium in a rapidly changing world.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Peaceful Encounters in premodern Islam. Theory and Practice of Diplomacy under the Mamluk Sultanate (1250-1517). 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

Against the common assumption of an "ancient" world dominated by wars and conquest, the project investigates how an international society emerged in the premodern Islamic world, one dominated by mutual recognition among rulers seeking to keep the peace and maintain privilege. Diplomacy, rather than war, became the norm and was facilitated by the development of a complex and dynamic set of rules recognized and understood by all participants.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

'No world without the stars': Astrology and Society in the SpanishHabsburg Netherlands during the Dutch Revolt (1560s-1640s). 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

This project will study the interaction of astrology with politics and religion in the Spanish-Habsburg Netherlands (1560s-1640s). Special attention will be paid to the cross-fertilization of Dutch astrological cultures and traditions with those of neighboring territories and to the general position of astrology within the framework of the Dutch Revolt (1566-1648). The project will analyze prognostic works, produced within the cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels. These include textual source material (such as almanacs, pamphlets, humanistic treatises, prodigious works and plays) and visual source material (such as engravings, book illustrations and other relevant printed representations). Furthermore it will disclose the complex production network of these sources. Special attention will be paid to the question whether and why certain astrological themes were more suited to display than others and how the various stakeholders determined the political and religious discourses within astrological treatises. Also the unique relationship between past, present and future that these prognostic works propagated, will be taken into account. This project will argue that astrological cultures formed an important base for the constantly evolving process of identity formation in the Spanish-Habsburg Netherlands during the Dutch Revolt. Different prognostic traditions were constantly exchanged, fused and adapted to local circumstances and structured daily lives in times of political and religious insecurity.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Europe and the call of Arab socialism: European support networks for development and rights in the Arab socialist world, 1950s-1980s. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

In the wake of postwar decolonization, various forms of "Arab socialism" reached their zenith in the Arab world, inspiring revolutions, popular resistance, and reforms of new regimes. Though there now exists a broad understanding of Arab socialism's impact on the Muslim societies involved, and its role in international relations has become subject of new research, its impact on non-state relations between Western Europe and the Arab world is far less known. Indeed, narratives of conflicts between a "liberal" Europe and a "violent" Arab world have overshadowed Western European exchanges and fascination with Arab socialism. Left-wing solidarity with the Muslim world might be well-known due to present-day civil campaigns over causes such as Palestine and Syria. This engagement, however, is part of an older and broader fascination that proceeded through a variety of transnational contacts linking the West with the Arab socialist world starting in the 1950s. Nasser's modernization of Egypt, Socialist Algeria, and Gaddafi's Libya became models for non-alignment, socialist development, and human rights in surprisingly wide circles among Western European NGOs, intellectuals, and solidarity movements. The goal of this research project is to delve into the networks and ideas that connected social movements in Western Europe and the Arab world. In this way, it addresses critical issues in the history of transnational North-South connections, "socialist" globalization, and human rights.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The Photo Archive Fritz Mayer van den Bergh: High Society's visual culture, then and now. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

The research group Thinking Tools from the Antwerp Academy for Fine Arts, proposes, in collaboration with the Antwerp Museum Mayer van den Bergh, a historical and artistic research project for the Museum's unpublished photo collection. The (photo) historical research into this yet to be disclosed collection and its background in visual culture then and now is also organized as a didactic project, and formulated as a challenging assignment for the BA students Photography. Charlotte Lybeer and Els Vanden Meersch create new artistic work (photography‐film) inspired by the photo archive.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Subaltern War Experiences in the First World War. Non-European involvement in Belgium and Northern France, 1914-1920. 01/11/2015 - 31/10/2016

Abstract

During the First World War approximately 4 million non-white people were enrolled in the armies. Many of them served in Europe. It was the very first time in history that so many non-whites were transported to what the Indian historian Santanu Das has called "the heart of whiteness". Here, they were confronted with utter barbarism in the continent that was regularly presented as the "cradle of civilization". I will explore the consequences, both short- and long-term, both on the individual and on a collective level, of these engagements in several domains of human activity : politics, culture,etc. Therefore, I will sketch the reasons why minorities or 'minorized majorities' from a (semi-)colonial context were tempted to join the war effort and brought over to Europe, how their experiences of reiteration and alienation in the Great War led to disillusionment and ultimately to political action and an often contested legacy lasting to today. In order to guarantee the feasability of the project, it will include only the Indian, Chinese and West-Indian troops that were engaged in the war efforts of the British Army at the Belgian front.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Restoring a Tangible Past. Antiquarian Mentalities and the Search for a New Political Culture in the Habsburg Low Countries (1570-1648). 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

In the second half of the sixteenth century, erudites and amateurs became imbued with a visual sense of the past, eager to discover and accurately reproduce tangible evidence from a native 'antiquity'. In the Southern Netherlands, this paradigmatic shift coincided with the open revolt against Habsburg authority and the subsequent endeavours to restore a dynastic order acceptable to all. This research project wants to assess the practical impact of this waxing antiquarian attitude - with its emphasis on the empirical documentation and preservation of dynastic remnants - on the actual redefinition of a new political culture (1570-1648). The main issue at stake is how a selective and ambiguous uncovering of profane 'relicts' provided both a model and a means to redress a constitutional framework under the guise of a return to authenticity? Studying changes introduced in the infrastructure of rulership on the basis of tangible proof of continuity will lead us to a new understanding of the alleged 'restoration' of Habsburg power. It calls for a multi-layered view wherein antiquarianism is recognized as a possible mediator between various interest groups (court, aristocracy and civic or regional stakeholders). As such, the approach not only aspires to gain better insight in the interaction between learned developments and popular politics. It will also contribute to the study of the visual and material dimension of early modern political culture.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Keeping the Peace in Premodern Islam. Theory and Practice of Diplomacy under the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517) 01/02/2015 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

Against the common assumption of an "ancient" world dominated by wars and conquest, the project investigates how an international society emerged in the premodern Islamic world, one dominated by mutual recognition among rulers seeking to keep the peace and maintain privilege. Diplomacy, rather than war, became the norm and was facilitated by the development of a complex and dynamic set of rules recognized and understood by all participants.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

(Post) Ottoman Migrants and the Origins of the Modern World 01/02/2015 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

From 1870 onwards, millions of Ottomans scattered throughout the world as refugees. This project explores the contribution these peoples had on the subsequent global transformations caused by their migrations. Considering that these refugees joined millions of others uprooted by "modernity," more research is needed to understand how they became part of the global economy and their possible role in shaping the politics of labor exploitation.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Blumi Isa

Research team(s)

Chair in European values and prospects UAntwerp - UCL. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

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

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

NISE - National movements and Intermediary Structures in Europe. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

Since the end of the 18th century nationalism, national movements and national identity have played an important role in the history of Europe. In spite of the numerous local specific conditions and the historical variables, there are parallels between the national movements. The discourses of national uniqueness were forged in a context of intense international exchanges across national borders. Moreover, national ideologies can only be defined through their dialectical relationship with one another. Despite a recent upsurge, the fact that national movements are pre-eminently transnational has been insufficiently studied so far. There are relatively few studies about transfers and transnational influences in the construction of nations and there is a lack of empirically based comparisons: national identity has been mainly studied within separate nations. Even when comparisons are made, the cases are often chosen from the same geographical area. Researchers from other linguistic regions often remain unaware of the results across the language barrier. This prevents many studies from penetrating the international arena and limits researchers to only carrying out comparative research within their own linguistic community. Additionally, much information on the sources for the study of national movements is based on uncontrolled data, which are not presented in a systematic way. So far, there has not been a coordinated effort on a European level to collect records, documentation and information on this subject, to conserve and disclose them for research. At the same time there is also a need for advice and support for the conservation and disclosure of the sources. All these elements enhance the need for comparative, transnational historiographical methods and means. That is why the interdisciplinary NISE network was established for research, heuristic and archival purposes. Its main objective is to enable comparative and transnational studies on national and regional movemens. Mapping out personal and institutional relations between national movements will enable researchers to study political and cultural transfers. This will in turn lead to a more empirically driven theory formation of nationalism.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Democratisation from below? The impact of the First World War on the direct interactions between MPs and 'ordinary citizens' in Belgium and France, 1910-1930. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

The First World War is often represented as a catalyst of democratizing tendencies. Populations in Europe and elsewhere wanted to be rewarded with more power for the sacrifices they had paid for the sake of the state. Until today, historians have extensively investigated how this claim was formulated by organized movements and political élites. This project, on the contrary, aims at revealing whether and how this claim was equally expressed by 'ordinary', unorganized citizens. In more concrete terms, the project focuses on the personal interactions between 'ordinary citizens' and MPs in Belgium and France between 1910 and 1930, as they are reflected in the preserved correspondences. Next to tracking the explicit demands for democratizing measures in the letters written by 'ordinary people' to MPs, the project will also investigate whether the general language of these correspondences became more 'democratic'. Moreover, in order to measure the political impact of those democratizing impulses from below, a systematic attempt will be made to follow their traces in the parliamentary actions and discourses of the selected MPs.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

'No world without the stars': Astrology and Society in the SpanishHabsburg Netherlands during the Dutch Revolt (1560s-1640s). 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

This project will study the interaction of astrology with politics and religion in the Spanish-Habsburg Netherlands (1560s-1640s). Special attention will be paid to the cross-fertilization of Dutch astrological cultures and traditions with those of neighboring territories and to the general position of astrology within the framework of the Dutch Revolt (1566-1648). The project will analyze prognostic works, produced within the cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels. These include textual source material (such as almanacs, pamphlets, humanistic treatises, prodigious works and plays) and visual source material (such as engravings, book illustrations and other relevant printed representations). Furthermore it will disclose the complex production network of these sources. Special attention will be paid to the question whether and why certain astrological themes were more suited to display than others and how the various stakeholders determined the political and religious discourses within astrological treatises. Also the unique relationship between past, present and future that these prognostic works propagated, will be taken into account. This project will argue that astrological cultures formed an important base for the constantly evolving process of identity formation in the Spanish-Habsburg Netherlands during the Dutch Revolt. Different prognostic traditions were constantly exchanged, fused and adapted to local circumstances and structured daily lives in times of political and religious insecurity.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Ottoman Diplomats to Belgium: An Online Digitalization Project of Diplomatic Sources 01/02/2014 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

'Ottoman Diplomats' offers online access to diplomatic reports from the Ottoman Legation in Brussels (1848-1914). They are made available here for the first time in high-quality photographic reproduction, together with key information on every dispatch (author, recipient, date, summary). The project mainly aims to: (1) stimulate new research on Ottoman diplomacy, and (2) encourage revisionist histories of Belgium that engage with Ottoman sources.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The significance of foreign interventions after the Peace of Westphalia. 06/01/2014 - 31/07/2014

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)

East vs. West? A radically comparative approach to nations and nationalism in European history (19th-20th C.). 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

Nations and nationalism from the margins. A research agenda This collaborative project wants to innovate nations and nationalism research 'from three margins': 1. Thematically: studying groups that are not part of national(ist) movements, have resisted national integration and/or have been neglected by scholars. 2. Methodologically and heuristically: reframing nations and nationalism from outside nationalism studies (e.g. urban history, ethnomethodology), bringing together scholars from diverse fields (e.g. history, political science, sociology, anthropology, literary studies, etc.), using original or underused sources. 3. Geographically integrating and comparing 'marginal' cases that are often neglected because most research focuses on the well-known larger cases. In order to further this research agenda, we plan to organise four intensive workshops that have to result in a publication: 1. Breaching banal nationalism 2. National indifference 3. National identification and personal experience 4. Rethinking civic vs. ethnic nationalism More information on: www.uantwerpen.be/en/conferences/from-the-margins/programme/

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Knowledge creation and knowledge circulation in the Austrian Netherlands: the rinderpest epizootic of 1769 - 1785 in the duchy of Brabant and the county of Flanders. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

From the 1960s and 1970s onwards, historians have seen science and knowledge as social constructions, inextractably linked to politics and power relations. For the 17th and 18th centuries, this was exemplified by the close link between top-down circulation of new forms of 'scientific' knowledge based on experiment and observation of nature and the articulation of state power in that same period. More recent historiography however substantially reappraised traditions, hands-on skills and trial and error processes of subaltern groups such as artisans and artists. Surprisingly though, the countryside is totally neglected in this debate, despite the importance of experiment, trial and error and the observation of nature in the economic survival of farmers. The rinderpest epizootic of 1769 – 1785 provides an ideal case-study to examine how knowledge was created, imposed and legitimised in a rural context, and the role experiment played in this. To answer these questions, I will investigate two aspects of this epizootic. The first aspect is the formulation of government policy, which was exceptionally intrusive and characterised by the mandatory slaughter of all suspicious animals. The second aspects involves the reception and execution: how did the mass-slaughter theory became hegemonic and how did the state persuade other actors to go along with this policy? Adopting a local, comparative approach, my research will provide the 'missing link' between rural history and the history of science.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Diplomacy, identity and cultural encounters: Belgian envoys in Ottoman Istanbul (1838-1914). 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

This research investigates Belgium's diplomatic representation in Istanbul during the second half of the nineteenth century. Its primary concern lies with diplomatic 'practices', rather than (only) with the institutional, political and economic dimensions of Belgian diplomacy. The so-called 'soft' elements of diplomacy – (court)protocol, etiquette, diplomatic culture – will be studied in correlation with processes of identity formation. One of the analytical tools for this research is the concept of 'cultural encounter'. As for the sources, a wide variety of materials will be utilized, ranging from diplomatic dispatches, over private correspondence and memoirs, to travel journals and newspapers. By analyzing actual diplomatic encounters in their historical specific setting, this project aims (1) to enrich our knowledge of the history of Belgian-Ottoman relations from a new perspective, (2) to offer some insights into the 'culture of diplomacy' in late Ottoman Istanbul, and (3) to contribute to the revision and de-dramatization of some of the findings in grand meta-narratives (like 'Orientalism' and the 'Clash of Civilizations'), that distort and essentialize East-West relations. .

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Practices of displacement: adoption and foster care of biracial children during and after Belgian colonialism. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

This research aims to analyse the practice of child displacements during and after the colonial era. Following the initial attention of psychologists and sociologists, historians are increasingly involved in the study of international and transracial adoptions. In Belgium, historical research about transracial child displacements and adoptions is lacking. By using the case of the displacements of biracial children from the (former) Belgian colonies, as one of the first transracial adoptions, this projects aims at furthering our insights in the early stages of the - currently institutionalised - practices of transracial adoptions. Additionally, transracial adoption will be investigated as a site of cultural encounter, as mixed race children epitomized 'the other' both in colonial as in post-colonial society.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Belgian investments in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and 20th century. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

Through its new focus on 'other' players on the international stage, such as small Industrial powers like Belgium instead of the Great Powers, this research aims to shed light on the effect of these consortiums in the Ottoman lands, and in so doing, to rething the nature of European financial penetration in the region, at the height of the Age of Empire.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Church Triumphant: The Restoration of the Catholic Landscape in the Habsburg Netherlands. 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

This project researches the implementation of the Catholic Reformation in the Habsburg Netherlands in the early seventeenth century. More in particular it researches the impact of the state on religious infrastructure and identity.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

A historical study on 450 years City Hall of Antwerp. 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

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

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Monograph "The Lure of the Dynasty. The Habsburg Court of Brussels in the Age of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella, 1598-1621". 19/10/2012 - 31/12/2012

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)

  • Promotor: Raeymaekers Dries

Research team(s)

Universalism vs. particularism in the transnational civil society of human rights organizations. Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch between cooperation and competition (1978-2008). 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

At the beginning of the 21st century the number of non-governmental organizations participating in the transnational civil society of human rights is almost uncountable. One could applaud the proliferation of human rights organizations (HROs) but one should also wonder why so many exist. Does this reflect an effective division of labour or does it indicate particularistic interests? This project, which dovetails with the very recent growth of historical research into HROs, focuses on the tension between their universalist mission and their particularistic tendencies. The underlying hypothesis is that the increasing participation of HROs in a 'human rights marketplace' has created a competition that is sometimes at odds with the universalist logic of cooperation and the defence of human rights. Or in other words: organizational self-interest may have fragmented the universal ideal of human rights and hampered the effectiveness of the activities and campaigns of HROs. This hypothesis will be tested through an analysis of the relations between Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch between 1978 and 2008, combining structural-quantitative research (historical social network analysis) and a qualitative examination of sources.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The commons backstage: the social agro-system of the late medieval Campine area explored. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

The initial goal of this research project was to analyse actors, arguments and outcomes of conflicts regarding common pool regimes and institutions in the late medieval Campine Area, in order to reveal changing uses and expectations of the commons by different stakeholders.

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. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

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)

KASKA - The tradition of the future / the future of the tradition. 01/07/2012 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

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

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Architecture in Antwerp: from Academy to University. 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

This research project aims at studying the educational program and the training of architects at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Arts (founded in 1663) and its successors (from 1952 onwards the National Higher Institute of Architecture and Urbanism, and since 1996 the Department of Design Sciences of the Antwerp University College Artesis). The other architectural related programs are included in the study: urbanism and spatial planning, interior architecture and conservation of the built and un-built heritage. Also the buildings in which the education took place, are the scope of this research. The result of this interdisciplinary research projects consists of a publication with thematic essays.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Knowledge creation and knowledge circulation in the Austrian Netherlands: the rinderpest epizootic of 1769 - 1785 in the duchy of Brabant and the county of Flanders. 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

From the 1960s and 1970s onwards, historians have seen science and knowledge as social constructions, inextractably linked to politics and power relations. For the 17th and 18th centuries, this was exemplified by the close link between top-down circulation of new forms of 'scientific' knowledge based on experiment and observation of nature and the articulation of state power in that same period. More recent historiography however substantially reappraised traditions, hands-on skills and trial and error processes of subaltern groups such as artisans and artists. Surprisingly though, the countryside is totally neglected in this debate, despite the importance of experiment, trial and error and the observation of nature in the economic survival of farmers. The rinderpest epizootic of 1769 – 1785 provides an ideal case-study to examine how knowledge was created, imposed and legitimised in a rural context, and the role experiment played in this. To answer these questions, I will investigate two aspects of this epizootic. The first aspect is the formulation of government policy, which was exceptionally intrusive and characterised by the mandatory slaughter of all suspicious animals. The second aspects involves the reception and execution: how did the mass-slaughter theory became hegemonic and how did the state persuade other actors to go along with this policy? Adopting a local, comparative approach, my research will provide the 'missing link' between rural history and the history of science.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Diplomatic Encounters : A Cultural History of the Belgian Legation in Ottoman Istanbul (1865-1909). 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

This research investigates Belgium's diplomatic representation in Istanbul during the second half of the nineteenth century. Its primary concern lies with diplomatic 'practices', rather than (only) with the institutional, political and economic dimensions of Belgian diplomacy. The so-called 'soft' elements of diplomacy – (court)protocol, etiquette, diplomatic culture – will be studied in correlation with processes of identity formation. One of the analytical tools for this research is the concept of 'cultural encounter'. As for the sources, a wide variety of materials will be utilized, ranging from diplomatic dispatches, over private correspondence and memoirs, to travel journals and newspapers. By analyzing actual diplomatic encounters in their historical specific setting, this project aims (1) to enrich our knowledge of the history of Belgian-Ottoman relations from a new perspective, (2) to offer some insights into the 'culture of diplomacy' in late Ottoman Istanbul, and (3) to contribute to the revision and de-dramatization of some of the findings in grand meta-narratives (like 'Orientalism' and the 'Clash of Civilizations'), that distort and essentialize East-West relations. .

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Shadow princes. The 'politics of intimacy' and the role of the minister-favourite in the Habsburg Low Countries, 1598-1621 and 1647-1656. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

Taking its cue from current international research on favouritism in Early Modern politics, this project studies the appearance of the valido or 'minister-favourite' in the Habsburg Low Countries. Few historians have hitherto realized that the 17th-century court of Brussels witnessed the rise of two powerful princely favourites who dominated the political scene of their day. Surprisingly, these courtiers have never been subjected to a thorough investigation, let alone a comparative analysis. By examining the careers of the validos of the Archdukes Albert & Isabella (1598-1621) and the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1647-1656) respectively, the project aims to demonstrate that the political historiography on the Spanish Netherlands is in need of a revision. Historians have seldom paid heed to the dynamics of favouritism, nor have they recognized the importance of the informal mechanisms of policymaking. Clearly, a thorough analysis of the politics of intimacy at the court of Brussels could greatly contribute to our understanding of the Habsburg regime in the Netherlands. Moreover, by comparing these little-known individuals to other validos of the age, the question as to whether or not the preponderance of minister-favourites in 17th-century Europe should be considered a distinct phase in the process of state formation will be reassessed.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Universalism vs. particularism in the transnational civil society of human rights organizations. Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch between cooperation and competition (1978-2008). 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

At the beginning of the 21st century the number of non-governmental organizations participating in the transnational civil society of human rights is almost uncountable. One could applaud the proliferation of human rights organizations (HROs) but one should also wonder why so many exist. Does this reflect an effective division of labour or does it indicate particularistic interests? This project, which dovetails with the very recent growth of historical research into HROs, focuses on the tension between their universalist mission and their particularistic tendencies. The underlying hypothesis is that the increasing participation of HROs in a 'human rights marketplace' has created a competition that is sometimes at odds with the universalist logic of cooperation and the defence of human rights. Or in other words: organizational self-interest may have fragmented the universal ideal of human rights and hampered the effectiveness of the activities and campaigns of HROs. This hypothesis will be tested through an analysis of the relations between Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch between 1978 and 2008, combining structural-quantitative research (historical social network analysis) and a qualitative examination of sources.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The struggle for the commons in the late medieval Campine area: an unexplored field. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

Commons have recently gained importance in historiography, but most studies tend to limit themselves to economical or political transition periods that led to the disappearance of the commons. Tensions and conflicts on the commons however, were not limited to these periods of large-scale transformation. Even where commons continued to be the economic and institutional corner-stone of rural society, as was the case in the Campine area in the north of Brabant throughout the medieval and early modern period, their use and regulation were permanently debated. In this project, actors, arguments and outcomes of these conflicts are analysed, not only to reveal changing uses and expectations on the commons by different stakeholders, but also to reveal changes in the local balance of power within and beyond the village community. Through an investigation of litigation processes on the Campine commons this project questions how control over the vital commons was used by different groups to gain influence in the village society and how these power struggles affected the use and management of the commons. By doing so, it aims to offer an innovative view of the hidden dynamics of the late medieval Campine society and its use and management of the natural environment.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Diplomacy in times of democratisation. An enquiry into the culture of the Belgian diplomatic community, 1910-1940. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

The project 'Diplomacy in times of democratization. An enquiry into the culture of the Belgian diplomatic community, 1910-1940' aims at measuring the influence of the process of democratization on the evolution of diplomatic culture during the interwar period. 'Diplomatic culture' will be studied from a political-cultural perspective, considering elements of self-representation and behaviour of the Belgian diplomats as a social entity and applying insights from discourse analysis theory, sociology and IR theory.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Diplomatic encounters: a cultural-historical analysis of Belgian-Ottoman relations (1838-1914). 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

In the literature on contacts between Europe and the East in the nineteenth century, the period appears invariably (and correctly) as the age of European colonial and imperial rule. Therefore, European relationships with non-European Others are described along hierarchic lines of dominance and oppression. It may be questioned, however, whether these relations can always be reduced to similar oppositions between a superior patronizing West and an inferior silent East. In this respect, the diplomatic contacts between Belgium and the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century offer an interesting case for the study of intercultural relations without a priori assumptions about the hierarchic dichotomy 'West versus Rest'. By using a twofold research perspective ¿ zooming in on the otherness-experiences of both the Belgian diplomats in Istanbul and the Ottoman envoys in Brussels ¿ this project therefore aims at 1) throwing new light on the complex dynamics of these diplomatic encounters; and 2) rethinking the ways in which the relationships between Europe and the East have been generally represented.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Military service as civic duty? A political-social history of the relationship between army and civilian society in Belgium (1830-1914) 01/07/2010 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

This project analyses to what degree and how military service acted as a conduit of norms and values between the army and civilian society in Belgium in the period 1830-1914. More specifically it questions whether conscription had 'civilising' effects on the army or a 'militarising' influence on civilian society. In concreto, it focuses on the national political arena.

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Research team(s)

Alterity and nation-building. The image of the national 'other' in discourses of sub-national movements and institutions in Belgium, 1830-2010 01/07/2010 - 30/06/2014

Abstract

This project investigates how political elites of the subnational movements and administrations in Belgium constructed, during five periods of about twenty years, the national 'Other' in their discourses, and what rhetorical strategies they used to that end. The research goal is to assess the extent to which such 'othering' discourse contributed to the successful institutionalization of subnational movements in Belgium.

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Research team(s)

Plenum.be - The Memory of Parliamentary Democracy. The Creation of a Digital Database for the Proceedings of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, 1870-1940. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This project will lay the fundaments for an integral digitalization of the Proceedings of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. Covering the period between 1870 and 1940, the PDF-documents provided by the services of the Chamber will be turned into flexibly searchable OCR-documents, which will be saved in a sustainable digital standard. Through the creation of a research website, the database will be rendered publicly accessible.

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Research team(s)

Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens: the life and works of a Belgian organist in the context of 19th century organ practice. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens (1823-1881) is currently seen as a key figure to the development of 19th century organ music. His influence as a teacher, virtuoso and composer reached far beyond the Belgian borders. But there is a striking contrast between Lemmens' fame and the small amount of information to be found about him. A thorough artistic investigation of his influence and meaning within the European organ context, focused on his École d'Orgue basée sur le plain-chant romain (1862) can be of particular interest for the practical research on 19th century organ music in Belgium.

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Research team(s)

Iconographic practices and traditions of European explorers in Central Africa (1870-1930). 01/10/2009 - 31/08/2010

Abstract

This research project analyses and contextualizes from a historical and anthropological point of view a variety of iconographic traditions and practices (photography, drawing, painting, etc.) of some late nineteenth and early twentieth century European explorers during and after their scientific, economic, or humanitarian expeditions in Central Africa, in a time of intense explorational activity and international colonial competition.

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Research team(s)

Drowned but not deserted. Interactions between social and ecological resilience of estuarine landscapes after flooding. Test-case: the Waasland polders on the west-bank of the river Scheldt (15th-18th centuries) 01/07/2009 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

Estuarine landscapes are very dynamic ecosystems which makes it very difficult to model social and ecological adaptations - resilience - after catastrophic inundations. In this research project the evolution of tidal channels after historical inundations and the human re-occupation of flooded areas in the late medieval and early modern Western Scheldt estuary are used to enhance our knowledge of the long-term interactions between ecological and social resilience.

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Research team(s)

The nation in the town: imagining the nation beyond Benedict Anderson. 01/02/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

This project wants to stimulate international cooperation between Oxford, Leiden and Antwerp universities. The objective is to fundamentally reframe our historic knowledge about nation building processes. Benedict Anderson's paradigm of imagined communities will be challenged through a comparative research into the imagining of the nation within different urban milieus in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

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Research team(s)

Military occupation as a transnational form of politics. A social and cultural history of the German occupation administration in Belgium during the first and the Second World War. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

In this project, the German occupation administration of the First and the Second World War in Belgium will be studied from within, as an internally coherent structure embedded in society. By using a perspective of intertemporal comparison, it tries to reveal similarities, continuities and differences between both administrations. Thus, it aims at providing insights into the history of military occupation as a specific form of politics. The starting point is that occupation administrations are transnational political organizations: they operate outside the political and social context of the authorities to which they are responsible. Therefore, they have to acquire legitimity both in the eyes of the political authorities of their home-country as in those of the population of the occupied country. This project tries to trace those processes of legitimization by focusing on the social composition and cohesion of those occupation administrations, and on their interaction with the population of the occupied country. It is situated at the crossroads of political, social and cultural history, but it uses insights from organizational sociology and cultural anthropology. Methodologically, a combination of prosopography, network analysis and discourse analysis will be brought to work.

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Research team(s)

Local elites in a changing society: a comparative study of power in Flemish and Brabantine villages (13th-16th centuries). 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

The aim of this project is to explain regional divergences in the organisation and dynamics of late medieval village elites by linking them to the equally regionally divergent patterns of rural commercialisation. In order to do so we have to question the basic assumption that an early and intensive commercialisation of agriculture was always paralleled by an equally early concentration of political and economic power in the hands of 'new' village elites, and that, vice versa, in more traditional or economically backward regions, feudal elites and community-based institutions and organisations were able to maintain their grip on rural society.

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Research team(s)

Environmental conflict, rural communities and political centralisation in the Burgundian-Habsburg Low Countries (c.1300-c1570): test-case: the duchy of Brabant. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

The environmental impact of late-medieval state formation is questioned through an in-depth analysis of the interventions of local officials of the central state in the organisation and regulation of the environment in Brabantine rural communities (14th-16th centuries). This will allow us to analyse if and how the central government acquired a significant influence in the social distribution of environmental costs and benefits already in the late medieval period, at the expense of traditional environmental knowledge and management systems.

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Research team(s)

The evolution of architectural education in Antwerp 1919-1977. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

The subject of this research is the evolution of architectural education in Antwerp from 1919 to 1977. The underlying idea is that the training of an architect underwent important changes in the course of the twentieth century, in close relation to both the development of a regional interpretation of international modernism and the evolution of the professional framework of the architectural practice. The profound study of these changes will create a broader basis to further research concerning the architects and the patrimony of the modern movement in Antwerp.

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Research team(s)

The early hydrography of the city of Ghent: an explorative geomorphological and historical study of human intervention in water management in medieval Ghent (1100-1300). 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

Human modifications to the natural hydrological system have generated the conditions in which one of the most spectacular examples of urban growth in medieval Europe could take place. It is, therefore, remarkable that almost no historical studies about this variable exist for the city of Ghent. The integration of the analysis of the (rare) historical evidence with new geomorphological and geological data, that have become available to research recently, will valorise existing expertise present at the Centre for Urban History (UA) and the Centre for the history of architecture and urban planning (HA).

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Research team(s)

Imagining the periphery and the centre of the world. An exploration of the global and transnational aspects of nation building in Belgium and New Zealand during the 19th and 20th centuries . 01/12/2008 - 30/11/2009

Abstract

This comparative project will examine the tension between centre and periphery in national identity construction in Belgium and New Zealand during the 19th and 20th centuries. To compensate for their small size, lack of international clout and peripheral position, both have imagined themselves as frontier nations. The global perspective is present at three different levels: content (representation), analysis (explanation) and methodology (spatial scales)

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Research team(s)

Environment and power. Environment as a source of conflict in the medieval and early modern Low Countries. 01/12/2008 - 30/11/2009

Abstract

The access and use of environmental resources were important sources of conflict in the past as well as today. The project "Environment and Power" tries to identify changing constructions of power in historical conflicts on ecology and environment. More specifically, the PhD-project examines how in a context of increasing political centralisation between the 14th and the 16th centuries, control over the local environment was used by government agents in order to curb autonomy of local community-based institutions on the countryside.

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Research team(s)

Speaking for others. A pragmatic analysis of the first person plural in the discourse of the Chamber of Deputies in Belgium, France, Great Britain and The Netherlands, 1870-1940. 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

By means of a systematic and comparative enquiry into the use of the first person plural in four Western European Chambers of Deputies, this research project investigates transformations in the phenomenon of political representation during a period of rapid democratization, as well as developments in the range of identities expressed in this process.

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Research team(s)

An invisible policy? Actors interacting in the municipal architectural policy in Flanders, 1950-1980. 01/10/2008 - 13/01/2012

Abstract

This project studies municipal public architecture in Flanders in the period 1950-1980. In literature this period is known for its fading interest in public architecture and the lack of any qualitative public policy. In this project this statement is questioned and investigated by broadening the traditional biographical (architect-designers) and typological methodological approach and explicitly includes the study of the interaction between the various actors in the public building process.

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The "Jewish neighborhood" in Antwerp. Geographical and symbolic uses of space by Jewish foreigners in an urban context (ca. 1900 - 1950) 01/10/2008 - 31/03/2011

Abstract

The relationship of ethnic and religious minorities in an urban context is characterized traditionally by two movements that at first glance may seem contradictory. Such minorities are forced to integrate to various degrees. Yet they seek to preserve their identity by establishing symbolic and material borders or boundaries between themselves and the surrounding society, thus creating and maintaining a form of (self)segregation. This project will research how these two mechanisms manifested themselves within a concrete case study, namely, that of the Antwerp Jewish community in the first half of the twentieth century. The extent to which the Second World War, which had tragic consequences for this Jewish community, influenced these mechanisms is an integral part of the research question.

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Diplomacy in times of democratisation. An enquiry into the culture of the Belgian diplomatic community, 1910-1940. 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

The project 'Diplomacy in times of democratization. An enquiry into the culture of the Belgian diplomatic community, 1910-1940' aims at measuring the influence of the process of democratization on the evolution of diplomatic culture during the interwar period. 'Diplomatic culture' will be studied from a political-cultural perspective, considering elements of self-representation and behaviour of the Belgian diplomats as a social entity and applying insights from discourse analysis theory, sociology and IR theory.

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A New Order, a New Man. Masculinity and Fascism in Belgium, c. 1930-1945. 01/07/2008 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

This research project probes into the influence of fascist ideas on the masculine ideal in Belgium (c. 1930-1945). This study aims at a deeper insight into the relationship between gender and twentieth-century politics by investigating the construction, reception and political use of male images in (1) the youth movement, (2) the visual arts and (3) the new cult of the body.

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Achilles and Adonis. A Study of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Reception and Significance of Richard Westmacott's Wellington Monument in Hyde Park, London. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

In 1822 a monument was erected near Hyde Park Corner commemorating Wellington. The monumental nude Achilles (by Richard Westmacott) soon fell victim however to ridicule and satire. In stead of the hero Achilles, the audience saw an Adonis. This transformation of Achilles into Adonis fits well into the Western, liberal political culture, in which there seems to be no place for representations of the male nude.

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Sabbatical leave. 01/01/2008 - 30/06/2008

Abstract

The first decades of the seventeenth century are a defining moment in the history of international relations. A lot of research has been done on the decline of the Habsburg hegemony in Europe as a consequence of the Eighty Years' War (1568-1618) and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Still the relationship between these two wars has never been fully explained. In particular the specific role played in international relations by the archducal regime and their Court of Brussels in the period 1598 to 1621 has never received proper attention. This project is to offer a new interpretation on the impact of factors such as dynastic politics and religious conflict in the international arena. It is the redactionphase of a wide ranging research of primary sources.

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Signs of Power, the Power of Signs. The heraldic and para-heraldic display of the baroque papacy, 1585-1667. 01/07/2007 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

The baroque papacy uses heraldic and para-heraldic display as an important tool for legitimizing its power. Heraldic symbols are appropriated and provided with new meanings. This project researches the media employed in the process, the strategies used when deploying these representations and the meanings that were attributed to them. Thus it aims to write a dynamic cultural history of political representations in baroque Rome.

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Male homosexuality in Brussels, 1867-1967. A study of practices and discourses. 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

Through the investigation of court files which deal with male same sex sexual acts which took place in Brussels between 1867 (the introduction of the Belgian Penal Code) and 1967 (the emergence of a gay movement), this project wants to determine: (1) which elitist and popular disocurses on homosexuality were prevalent and how these discourses influenced the shaping of the sexual identities of the people involved; (2) the significance of urban development for the construction of non-heterosexual lifestyles and identities; (3) the influence of political transformations and power shifts on homosexual life and identities.

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Couture Norine: The embodiment of th Belgian Avant-Garde, 1918-1952. 01/10/2006 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

This project wishes for the first time to offer a thorough study of the couture house Norine. To this end, instead of opting for one exclusive perspective or method, an attempt is made to envisage the complexity of the phenomenon. Seeing as little research is available on which to base such a study, the project will in the first instance contain the necessary 'factual material': the limited biographical information available on the couple Van Hecke-Deschryver needs to be elaborated and a chronological overview of the rise and fall of the couture house also needs to be provided. An overview of all known designs and creations also needs to be drawn up, which will allow for a sketch of the house's evolutions in style. Alongside this, it is the intention to describe the position that Norine occupied within the Belgian and international world of the artistic avant-garde, as well as within the world of fashion itself.

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The political specificity of Antwerp. A study of the Antwerp political culture during the electoral periods of 1919, 1928 and 1936. 01/07/2006 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

In this project the political culture of the national elections of 1919, 1928 and 1936 within the arrondissement of Antwerp will be subjected to a thorough multi-actor research. It will be researched whether in the discourse and the practices of the political elites, the intermediate structures, the journalists and the electorate a political specificity of Antwerp was articulated, and to which degree this specificity resulted from a sense of alienation towards national politics.

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Archduke Albert, 1598-1621: Dynastic Politics in Times of Religious War. 01/03/2006 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

In the early seventeenth century traditional dynastic politics face three challenges: the manifold evolutions in the military field, the confessionalisation of international relations and the advent of the raison d'état as an alternative logic for conducting foreign policy. The impact of these three challenges is researched on the basis of the reign of Archduke Albert (1598¿1621) in the Habsburg Netherlands, focussing thereby on the dynastic politics of the House of Habsburg and its response to these challenges.

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Changing formats. Court and household in the Habsburg Netherlands, 1598-1647. 01/01/2005 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

Since the 1980s courts and households have regained the interest of historians. By comparison little study has been devoted to the Court of Brussels. Yet it offers a unique case, particularly as regards to the first half of the seventeenth century. The residence of sovereign princes at the turn of the century, the court subsequently houses a landvoogd (or viceroy) of the blood royal and then becomes the seat of a grandee that serves as interim-governor-general. This project wants to study the structure and the organisation of the household during the reign of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella (1598-1621) and that of the cardinal-infant Ferdinand of Austria (1634-1641). By unravelling the composition of the household at the selected periods, the political, social and cultural networks emanating from the dignitaries will also be mapped out, allowing for the first time to make a qualified assessment of how big the impact of the household really was on the political structures of the Southern Netherlands.

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Early-Modern Structures of Power. 01/10/2003 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

This project approaches power and the use of power from various angles. On the one hand it wants to pin down how early-modern man thought about power and the use of power through the study of language and visual communication. On the other hand it wants to map out networks of power. These two approaches intersect. This way a much more qualified view is to be gained on the emergence of the stuctures of modern politics and power.

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Creation of an educational and research center for the study of political history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 01/10/2003 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

The instoration of a Bachelor-Master degree in history makes political history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into a full-fledged field of education and research at the University of Antwerp. Within this field, a cross-fertilization between literature-based education at the Bachelor-level and original research activities at level of the Masters and of the PhD will be aimed at.

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