• Our Project

    City and Society in the Low Countries is a vibrant network of senior and junior researchers devoted to the study of the urban history of the historical Low Countries (present-day Belgium and the Netherlands), that builds on the know-how acquired during the previous phases III, IV, V and VI of the Interuniversity Attraction Pole Program (IAP) of the Belgian Science Policy Office (Belspo). The current phase VII (2012-2017) coordinates a new collaborative research project entitled City and Society in the Low Countries (ca. 1200-ca. 1850). The ‘condition urbaine’: between resilience and vulnerability. The enlarged network includes six Belgian universities (UGent, UA, ULB, VUB, KULeuven and FUNDP), two Belgian federal scientific institutions (RMFAB, KBR) and two European partners (the Universities of Leiden and Utrecht).

  • Urban memories and counter-memories

    A second work package is concerned with the city as a site of memory and commemoration. The way urban memories were organised is one of the most striking manifestations of ‘urban resilience.’ The remarkable expansion of the field of ‘memory studies’ in the past decade has shown time and again the importance of memory as a constituent of collective and individual identities (Erll 2005; Cubitt 2007). This project aspires to provide a critical assessment of the ways urban society was structured through practices of remembrance in the pre-modern Low Countries.

  • Urban community building: inclusion and exclusion

    The notion of ‘resilience’ is a powerful metaphor to argue for the relevance of urban history. Yet it is a metaphor in need of social qualification. The influential sociological work of Robert Putnam and his followers has stressed the direct relationship between a past of strong medieval and early modern urban communities and the success of a modern ‘civil society’, arguing thus for the ‘resilience’ of urban social capital. Recent historical critiques, however, have questioned Putnam’s idealising and oversimplified vision of urban communes.