Research team

Centre for Urban History

Expertise

Historical research on cities and urban society. Focus on the production and circulation of technical knowledge and skills; the assessment of labour and the social economy; migration, civil society and governance. Chronological emphasis on 15th to 19th centuries. Interdisciplinary and conceptual approach.

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)

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).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

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.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

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.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Historical and typological evolution of window glazing. An integrated view upon a forgotten building material. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

This integrated research concerns the evolution in window glazing in architecture in the Low Countries, from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Within the framework of the study of 'material culture' the historical and typological evolution will be conducted by studying historical texts, images, still existing windows and chemical analyses of well-dated historical glass. Concerning our region, this research on the building material 'glass' is the first of this kind and size.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

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.

Researcher(s)

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.

Researcher(s)

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.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

"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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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?

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Research team(s)

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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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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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

Abstract

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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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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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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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