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Jan Baetens

'National' culture, one that is linked to the daily perception of cultural artefacts and inevitably affected by the context of globalisation, can be considered through the optic of Belgian comics. And although Belgian national culture escapes easy characterisation, it can at least be explored from three different angles. Firstly, Flemish comics will be discussed in terms of the Flemish way of 'doing comics' or, more broadly, anti-Belgicism, in terms of both political subtext and language issues. Secondly, francophone Belgian comics can be approached as an example of cultural blindness, marked by 'evasion' or the playing-down of Belgian specificity in broad cultural as well as more precise linguistic terms. Drawing upon the works of Deleuze and Guattari, these examples can then be used as an outline for a framework of broader analysis regarding national cultures in peripheral situations.

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Making Place for the Modern Road

The Road Exhibitions in Brussels (1910) and Liège (1930)

David Peleman

This article describes how two temporary road exhibitions before World War II functioned as tools to frame the Belgian road project as a rich cultural venture. In the absence of a comprehensive policy and any diverse cultural engagement by the government, a particular relationship between culture, technology, and society crystallized in the museological arrangement of these exhibitions. The article argues that, while these exhibitions relate the road project to a broad cultural field, they simultaneously instill a rigid way of reasoning about the modern road.

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Iterative Modernism

The Design Mode of Interwar Engineering in Belgium

Greet De Block and Bruno De Meulder

This article traces the implicit spatial project of Belgian engineers during the interwar period. By analyzing infrastructure planning and its inscribed spatial ideas as well as examining the hybrid modernity advocated by engineers and politicians, this article contributes to both urban and transport history.

Unlike colleagues in countries such as Germany, Italy and the United States, Belgian engineers were not convinced that highways offered a salutary new order to a nation traumatized by the First World War. On the contrary, the Ponts et Chaussées asserted that this new limited access road would tear apart the densely populated areas and the diverse regional identities in Belgium. In their opinion, only an integration of existing and new infrastructure could harmonize the historically fragmented and urbanized territory. Tirelessly, engineers produced infrastructure plans, strategically interweaving different transport systems, which had to result in an overall transformation of the territory to facilitate modern production and export logics.

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Building a Hybrid Highway System

Road Infrastructure as an Instrument of Economic Urbanization in Belgium

Michael Ryckewaert

This paper investigates the conception and construction of the Belgian highway network since 1945. It focuses on the formative decades of the 1950s and 1960s, when the network was designed and an important financing mechanism established (the 1955 Road Fund). A distinguishing characteristic in the construction of the network is the use of highways as a vector of urbanization for economic development purposes. Combining long-distance traffic with local access to adjoining services, these highways fulfill a twofold role defined at the conception of the network in 1951. Incorporating ring roads, expressways, regional highways, and a high density of exits into a transnational system, the Belgian network is a "hybrid" highway system.

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Daniel Dratwa

For more than four years during the First World War Belgium was almost completely occupied. In response to the brutal occupation of the country, while many Belgian Jews were in the army, some played a more or less important role by various kinds of effective or spiritual resistance. A few others collaborated with the enemy. 'The soul of the moral resistance' was Chief Rabbi Armand Bloch (1861–1923), a man who was quiet by nature, but who put himself in danger; among other things, he delivered a sermon on the first day of Passover 1916 that would bring him, in May, in front of the War Council, which sentenced him 'for insult' to a six-month prison term. By describing his career and analysing his published works, this article will try to understand his reasons for resistance.

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Jozef Pacolet and An Marchal

What’s in a name? ‘Social quality’ is an attractive yet vague concept. It has an appeal in the context of post-industrial aspirations to rise above the quantitative and the material, towards qualitative, immaterial goals; it emphasises ‘social’ aspects that lie beyond individualistic preoccupations and are oriented towards considerations of collectivity and solidarity. These aspects can be represented in terms of two dimensions (Figure 1), where the notion of social quality is situated in the upper left quadrant. But does this show the real content of this ‘container concept’, and does it reflect present everyday reality? The concept of social quality has been adapted (or rather adopted) in the context of the labour market in terms of the notion of ‘flexicurity’. We shall discover that to an important extent this notion includes both ends of the dimensions; in other words, it is not what it seems.

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Christian Ewert

Joseph Lacey, Centripetal Democracy: Democratic Legitimacy and Political Identity in Belgium, Switzerland, and the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 312 pp., ISBN: 9780198796886 The European Union (in the form of its

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Flemish Comics versus Communist Atheism

Renaat Demoen’s Au pays de la grande angoisse (1950–1951)

Philippe Delisle

Belgian comics, which originated in conservative Catholic milieux between the wars, asserted their anti-Communism from the outset. 1 The first adventure of Tintin, launched at the beginning of 1929 in Le Petit Vingtième [The little twentieth

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The Medium Is the Message

Olivier Schrauwen’s Arsène Schrauwen beyond Expectations of Autobiography, Colonial History and the Graphic Novel

Benoît Crucifix and Gert Meesters

Olivier Schrauwen and make it clear that a story about the Belgian Congo in his hands might result in something very different from the usual well-documented colonial story. In 2014, at Fantagraphics, Olivier Schrauwen published Arsène Schrauwen , in

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Home Away from Home

Ethnography of an EU Erasmus+ Project

Terry Lamb and Danila Mayer

five organisations: Tumult in Belgium, the World of NGOs in Austria, the Centre for Peace in Croatia, forumZFD in Germany and the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom. Running from 2017 to 2019, the project consisted of thorough desk research