CHIR research: Intercultural identities in border regions. Belgian migration to northern France (1850-1914)

Cultural History


During the 19th century both Belgium and France developed an ideology of national unity. The Belgian migrant population was, however, spatially displaced from one national story to another, and as a consequence they could no longer perfectly fit in. We investigate how the migrants deal with this situation: what was the sotry they most identified themselves with? Can we discern a certain evolution trough the years? This inquiry is based on an analysis of external manifestations, such as, for example, the associations, the corteges they participated in, the games and sports they practised, etc.


 History of Education


Moeskroen - klasThe section on pedagogical historiography investigates the role of education and schooling in the socialisation of the Belgian migrant. Starting on the basis of this research, we examine how certain educational situations might have contributed to a particular kind of identity formation and perception. After a historical analysis of the general and local educational policy context, we explore how this specific situation influenced the disposition and acculturation of the Belgian migrant. By means of, among others, biographical and archival material the relation between educational interventions and modalities of identity perception will be investigated.



Finally, we study the verbal and literary production of the Belgian migrant as a basic instrucment for the development of the social identity. Who were these Belgian labourers that sang or wrote? In order to be able to trace and understand the shaping of their identity, it is of crucial importance to study their songs, diaries and correspondence. Bu also an analysis of the discourse about the migrant, mainly to be found in newspaper and magazine articles, should not be overlooked. Preliminary samples indicate a strong stereotyping based on both ethnic and cultural features.