Bert De Munck

Bert De Munck


Sint-Jacobsmarkt 13
2000 Antwerpen, BEL

Bert De Munck (1967) is full Professor at the History Department at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, teaching ‘Early Modern History’, ‘Theory of Historical Knowledge’, and ‘History of Science and Society’. He is a member of the Centre for Urban History, Antwerp, and the Director of the interdisciplinary Urban Studies Institute and the international Scientific Research Community (WOG) ‘Urban Agency: The Historical Fabrication of the City as an Object of Study’.


My research has addressed a broad range of topics, from learning on the shop floor and the circulation of technical knowledge to migration, poor relief and civil society, to material culture and the construction of product quality. The red thread through these themes is the consistent focus on the institutional, cultural and epistemological embeddedness of markets and economic activities, from labour and production all the way to consumption.

In the field of material culture I have recently co-edited a volume on the Concepts of Value in European Material Culture, 1500–1900 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015, with Dries Lyna), in addition to several theoretical and conceptual articles. In the field of the history of knowledge, this has resulted in an edited volume on Innovation and Creativity in Late Medieval and Early Modern European Cities (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014, with Karel Davids), contributions to the new handbook Embattled Territory: The Circulation of Knowledge in the Spanish Netherlands (Ghent: Academia Press, 2015) and an edited volume on Knowledge and the Early modern City: A History of Entanglements (Routledge 2019, with Antonella Romano). And in the field of civil society, I have recently collaborated to a thematic issue in the interdisciplinary journal Social Science History (N° 41, Spring 2017) – both as an author and as co-editor.

My main focus is the history of labour and craftsmanship, as is clear from my role in the new Bloomsbury-series A Cultural History of Work. This is a chronological series of six volumes, for which I have written the chapter ‘The political culture of work’ in two volumes  (1450-1650 and 1650-1800 – the first with Jan Dumolyn) and have acted as a co-editor to the volume 1450-1650 (with Tom M. Safley, University of Pennsylvania). My interest in craftsmanship has also resulted in an interdisciplinary article in Geoforum, in which I connect recent views on the history of pre-industrial forms of craftmanship to present-day debates on the global economy and the labour market.

The broader background of my research is urban history, in which I have stimulated conceptual reflections and interdisciplinary approaches. As a director of the interdisciplinary platform Urban Studies Institute I have initiated the research community (FWO-WOG, 2016-2020) ‘Urban Agency II: The Historical Fabrication of the City as an Object of Study’) and the series Routledge Advances in Urban History (with Simon Gunn, University of Leicester). I have also published theoretical reflections on the rationale of focussing on the city and the history of the urban imaginary in the journals Urban History and Journal of Urban History.


Craft guilds, labour, vocational training and the circulation of technical knowledge, material culture and repertoires of evaluation, urban citizenship, and conceptual and theoretical approaches to urban history and urban studies.


Director of the Scientific Research Community (WOG) ‘Urban Agency: The historical fabrication of the city as an object of study’.

Director of the urban Studies Institute, University of Antwerp (


2014      Guest professor at the Ecoles des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

2016      Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study In the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS).

2016      Guest lecturer at the Central European University, Budapest

2017      Guest professor at Science-Po Bordeaux, Université de Bordeaux

2018      Visiting professor University of Basel, Department of History, Graduate School

2021      Visiting professor at UC Berkeley (Rubens Chair)


2013-    Co-operating editor of the journal Historical Social Research

2017-    Series editor of the series Routledge Advance in Urban History (with Simon Gunn)

2020-    Corresponding editor of the International Review of Social History


2020     PROSE AWARD of the American Association of Publishers for the category Multivolume Reference/Humanities with the series A Cultural History of Work, Volumes 1-6, Bloomsbury, series editors Deborah Simonton and Anne Montenach (as co-editor of volume 3, with Tom Safley)



-- Guilds, Labour and the Urban Body Politic: Fabricating Community in the Southern Netherlands, 1300-1800 (Routledge, 2018).

-- Gated communities? Regulating migration in early modern cities (Ashgate, 2012) (ed. with Anne Winter).

-- Innovation and Creativity in Late Medieval and Early Modern European Cities (Ashgate, 2014) (ed. with Karel Davids).

-- Concepts of Value in Material Culture, 1500-1900 (Ashgate, 2015) (ed. with Dries Lyna)

-- Cities and Creativity from the Renaissance to the Present (Routledge, 2017) (ed. with Ilja Van Damme and Andrew Miles).

-- A Cultural History of Work in the Renaissance (1450-1650) (Bloomsbury, 2018) (ed. with Tom Safley).

-- Urbanizing Nature: Actors and Agency (Dis)Connecting Cities and Nature Since 1500 (Routledge 2019) (ed. with Tim Soens, Dieter Schott and Michael Toyka-Seid).

-- Knowledge and the Early modern City: A History of Entanglements (Routledge, 2019) (ed. with Antonella Romano).


-- Guilds, product quality and intrinsic value. Towards a history of conventions? Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung, 36 (2011) 4: 103-124.

-- Conventions, the Great Transformation and Actor Network Theory. Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung, 37 (2012) 4: 44-54.

-- Artisans, Products and Gifts: Rethinking the History of Material Culture in Early Modern Europe. Past & Present, 224 (August 2014): 39-74.

-- Disassembling the city: A historical and an epistemological view on the agency of cities. Journal of Urban History, 43 (2017) 5: 811–829.

-- Re-assembling Actor-Network Theory and urban history. Urban History 44 (2017) 1: 111-122.

-- Rewinding Civil Society: Conceptual Lessons from the Early Modern Guilds. Social Science History 41, Spring 2017: 83-102.

-- Relocating Civil Society: Theories and Practices of Civil Society between Late Medieval and Modern Society’, Social Science History 41, Spring 2017: 1–17 (with Maarten Van Dijck and Nicholas Terpstra).

-- Artisans as knowledge workers: Craft and creativity in a long term perspective’, Geoforum, 99 (February 2019): 227-237.

-- Access to the Trade: Monopoly and Mobility in European Craft Guilds in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, Journal of Social History (2020): 1–32 (with Maarten Prak, Clare Crowston, Christopher Kissane, Chris Minns, Ruben Schalk and Patrick Wallis).