|Principal investigator||Anne Winter (Coordinator), Kenneth Bertrams (Partner), Hilde Greefs (Partner), Bart Willems (Partner)|
This project aims to investigate the scale and nature of socio-cultural encounters and confrontations that emanated from foreign migration to Belgium between c. 1840 and 1890 by cross- and interdisciplinary analysis and valorization of a series of exceptionally rich but underexploited series of the federal historical heritage. Situated at the crossroads of migration history, maritime history and the history of science and technology and of social policy, this project employs these sources to map the characteristics of foreign migration streams to Belgium and to gain insight into their varied interactions with their host society. It focuses on an exceptional period in European and Belgian history, that was characterized by rising mobility and increasing economic integration, but also witnessed the emergence of the „modern‟ nation state, in which the distinction between „foreigner‟ and „national‟ became more important. The project aims (1) to map the scale, chronology and profiles of foreign migration to 19th-century Belgium, and (2) to investigate the political, economic, social and cultural dimensions of interactions of foreigners with different layers of Belgian society. Its underlying assumption is that increasing international mobility and circulation – rather than one-off migration – had a profound influence on the economic, political, cultural and social history of 19th-century Europe in general, and Belgium in particular. The research results from this project will therefore not only contribute to a better insight into the „national‟ history of Belgium, but will also provide major contributions to several international debates in migration history, including on the nature of a so-called „mobility transition‟ (Lucassen & Lucassen 2009), the interactions between state policies and migration patterns (Noiriel 1998; Rosental 2011), the role of migration „chains‟ and networks (Wegge 1998; Lesger et al. 2002), the international dimensions of the „knowledge economy‟ (Black 2013), and the long-term integration of international labour markets (Hatton & Williamson 2006).