How Can One Not be Interested in Belgian History: War, Language and Consensus in Belgium Since 1830

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Belgium rarely attracts outside attention. Yet the country is more than fine chocolates, delicious beers or Tintin. This volume celebrates Belgium as a federal, post-nationalist country, which combines cultural pragmatism with a rather solid social consensus. It presents a critical vision of the origins of Belgian independence and of that complex notion named ‘belgitude’. It illustrates how the deep-seated tradition of local autonomy and suspicion towards state authority go hand in hand with a strong sense of individual tolerance and solidarity, with a rejection of violent confrontation and a continuous search for consensus. In this volume, prominent commentators on things Belgian combine critical and irreverent observations with a strong attachment to the existence of the country and its role on the international stage. They emphasize the potential of linguistic diversity and cultural plurality. They also point out the ambivalent relation between history, national myths, and the ‘lasagne’ identity of most Belgians. Belgium may be a model or a warning. Its history addresses questions of identity and security, of a sense of cohesion and common purpose – or the
lack thereof. Belgium does matter. This volume tells you why.
 

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Contents

Martine Van Berlo Moray McGowan Tim Jackson
11
Martine Van Berlo
33
Sophie de Schaepdrijver
55
Geert van Istendael
83
Benno Barnard
101
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
139
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About the author (2005)

BENNO BARNARD is a Dutch poet, essayist, playwright, and translator. GEERT VAN ISTENDAEL is a Belgian writer, poet, and essayist. TONY JUDT was a British historian, essayist and university professor, and elected Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the British Academy. MARC REYNEBEAU is a Belgian author, journalist, columnist, and historian currently serving as editor of De Standaard.

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