Beyond Belgium: Encounters, Exchanges and Entanglements, c. 1900–1925

Laqua, Daniel

The 'Beyond Belgium' project was launched in the summer of 2009 by two historians from Belgium (Christophe Verbruggen and Gita Deneckere) and one from the UK (Daniel Laqua). Over the past decade, there has been a wealth of methodological reflection on the writing of transnational history and on particular approaches from Transfergeschichte to histoire croisée. The project takes inspiration from the 'transnational turn' and, at the same time, seeks to offer fresh perspectives on Belgium in the period between 1900 and 1925.

Why this time frame, and why Belgium? In chronological terms, the main focus is on the Belle Epoque - the pre-war years which were characterised by a rich variety of cultural exchanges and a plethora of movements for social reform. Yet the project also looks beyond the Great War as it seeks to trace particular ruptures and continuities. As a whole, it explores the ways in which transnational encounters and strong nationalisms clashed and coexisted. The interplay between national and transnational processes is also the reason why, despite its transnational ambitions, the project involves looking at one particular country. All authors consider national developments, but they follow the links that lead 'beyond Belgium', acknowledging the international congresses, campaigns and currents for which Belgium was a site.

In April 2010, the project organisers hosted an international workshop on the eve of of the 8th European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC). This workshop was entitled 'Beyond Belgium: Transnational Cultural and Social Entanglements, 1880-1925'. The event allowed the contributors to present work-in-progress and consider the wider framework of 'Beyond Belgium'.

Based on these discussions, we set around to produce a special journal issue, containing co-authored pieces that are themselves the result of transnational cooperation. This special journal issue, entitled Beyond Belgium: Encounters, Exchanges and Entanglements, 1900-1925, appeared as vol. 90, no. 4 of the Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire / Belgisch tijdschrift voor filologie en geschiedenis. This publication contains ten articles and brings
together an international cast of twenty historians. The contributions
draw attention to the sites where activists and academics gathered, and to the organizations that sustained such processes. The authors also suggest how transnational history can help to challenge notions of national exceptionalism.

Table of Content:
1. Belgium on the Move: Transnational History and the Belle Époque (by Christophe Verbruggen, Daniel Laqua and Gita Deneckere)

2. "Pirenne & Co.": The Internationalization of Belgian Historical
Science, 1880s–1920s (by Geneviève Warland and Matthias Middell)

3. The History of "Belgian" Tropical Medicine from a Cross-Border
Perspective (by Myriam Mertens and Guillaume Lachenal)

4. Sociology in a Transnational Perspective: Brussels, 1890–1925 (by
Kaat Wils and Anne Rasmussen)

5. Peaks of Internationalism in Social Engineering: A Transnational History of International Social Reform Associations and Belgian Agency, 1860–1925 (by Christian Müller and Jasmien Van Daele)

6. The Transnational Dimensions of the Early Socialist Pillars in Belgium and the Netherlands, c. 1885–1914: An Exploratory Essay (by Maarten Van Ginderachter and Minte Kamphuis)

7. Entangled Feminisms: Rethinking the History of the Belgian Movement for Women's Rights Through Transnational Intersections (by Julie Carlier)

8. Transnational Seculars: Belgium as an International Forum for
Freethinkers and Freemasons in the Belle Époque (by Jeffrey Tyssens and Petri Mirala)

9. Bierstuben, Cottages and Art Deco: Regionalism, Nationalism and
Internationalism at the Belgian World’s Fairs (by Eric Storm and Hans Vandevoorde)

10. A Tale of Two World Capitals: The Internationalisms of Pieter Eijkman and Paul Otlet (by Wouter Van Acker and Geert Somsen)

Further information is available via the following website:

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