Colloque - The Belgian Congo between the two World Wars

The period between the signature of the Versailles Treaty and the establishment of the League of Nations on the one hand and the start of the Second World War on the other (1919-1939) is a most interesting and often neglected one. Before the First World War, during the ten years or so which followed the take-over of the Congo Free State by Belgium, Belgian colonial policy was in its infancy. Most of the personnel in charge of its application was for some time that of the former state and, within six years, the war had started in Europe and also in Africa. Consequently, 1919 appears an appropriate starting time for a period of twenty years at the end of which Belgium was not formally engaged in the new conflict, but was already getting ready for it in some spheres of activity.

The Conference has a broad thematic focus: developments in the Congo itself will of course be examined extensively, but also the impact of colonialism in the metropolis (including colonial policy) on the general background of declared Belgian governmental policy. It aims to assess the situation and problems arising on the ground for the African population when confronted with that policy becoming operational, but collateral effects on the local population of the presence of Europeans in the country are not excluded. We will take into account local, both African and European, dimensions as well as external developments. These include not only the interplay between Belgian interests and policies in the Congo and their feedback on Belgium itself, but the interplay between the metropolis, Belgian colonial circles and “foreign” influences as well. Our purpose is to provide the widest possible view of the development of the country during that period, while, at the same time, accepting that its complete history will not be written at the end of our meeting. But perhaps it will be the first of many others either going deeper or examining new ones.

The Academy will invite scholars from both the southern and the northern hemisphere to contribute to the Conference with poster presentations. There will be no extensive formal presentation of the posters during the meeting, in order to give an absolute priority to discussion.

The two-day conference will be divided into four sessions of half a day each: three of them devoted to one of the themes mentioned below and the fourth to a summing-up of the whole. At the beginning of each session authors will briefly summarize their paper, after which a moderator (member of the Academy) will launch a number of themes for discussion based on these summaries.

Trois membres du CRHiDI y présenteront une communication :Amandine LauroBérengère Piret et Pascaline Le Polain.


Thursday 17 March, 2016

Morning Session (9:00 – 12:00): Politics, Order and Law

Charlotte BRAILLON, Université de Liège (Belgium) African Law in the Belgian Congo. A New Appraisal of Colonial Legal History in the Light of Recent Legal Theories

Vincent GENIN, Université de Liège (Belgium) The International Situation of the Belgian Congo from the Perspective of International Law Jurists after the Treaty of Versailles (1919-1920)

BREAK (10:15 – 10:30)

Amandine LAURO, FNRS, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) Une colonie si tranquille. Urban Order, Security Anxieties and Colonial Control in the Belgian Congo (1919-1940)

Pascaline LE POLAIN, Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society (Belgium)

Bérengère PIRET, Université Saint-Louis (Belgium) Men dedicated to supply the Shortage of Means. The Small Justice and the Small Judges of the Belgian Congo (1908-1960)

Patricia VAN SCHUYLENBERGH, Royal Museum for Central Africa (Belgium) The Question of Internationalism around Nature Reserve Albert National Park: between Hunting, Science and Diplomacy

LUNCH (12:00 – 2:00)

Afternoon Session (2:00 – 5:00): Economy and Society

Jacques CHARLIER, Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences (Belgium) Les transports ferroviaires et fluviaux au Congo pendant l’entre-deux-guerres

Piet CLEMENT, Bank for International Settlements (Switzerland) The Origins of the Indigenous Peasantry Scheme: Agricultural Development in the Belgian Congo (1917-1949)

Stephanie KERCKHOFS, KU Leuven (Belgium) Crisis and Science: the Evolution of Agricultural Science in the Belgian Congo during the Great Depression BREAK (3:30 – 3:45)

Johan LAGAE, Universiteit Gent (Belgium) Pour Matadi la question (de la ségrégation) est encore plus grave qu’ailleurs. The Making and Shaping of a Congolese Harbour City: Matadi 1920-1940

Pierre TILLY, Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) Labour Policies and Practices in British, French and Belgian African Colonies: a Comparative Perspective (1918-1945)

Sven VAN MELKEBEKE, Universiteit Gent (Belgium) The Development of Divergent Coffee-producing Paths in the Lake Kivu Area


Friday 18 March, 2016

Morning Session (9:00 – 12:00): Culture

Phillip CANTRELL, Longwood University (USA) Negotiating the Space between the Locals and the Colonials: the Role of the Anglican Church in the Belgian Congo

Anne CORNET, Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences (Belgium) & Royal Museum for Central Africa (Belgium) Female Labour in a Colonial Context: a Prosopography of Secular and Missionary Western Women in the Belgian Congo

KASONGO M. KAPANGA, University of Richmond (USA) The Question of Cinema for the Natives between World Wars in Congo

BREAK (10:15 – 10:30)

Michael MEEUWIS, Universiteit Gent (Belgium) The Indigenization of Belgian Colonial Language Policy under Louis Franck, Minister of Colonies, from 1918 until 1924

Pascal PIROT, FRS-FNRS, Université de Liège (Belgium) The Place of Science in the Colonial Policy of Leopold III

Yasmine VAN PEE, University of California at Berkeley (USA) La colonisation pittoresque: Cultural Politics and the Interwar Debates on Belgian Colonial Government

LUNCH (12:00 – 2:00)

Afternoon Session (2:00 – 5:00): Final Reflections

BREAK (3:30 – 3:45)


Programme détaillé (PDF)
Document Adobe Acrobat 195.7 KB

Informations pratiques

17-18 mars 2016

Académie royale des sciences d'Outre-Mer

Av. Louise 231

1050 Bruxelles


Registration: imperative.


Registration Fee: 30 € (entrance fee, abstracts book, coffee breaks, lunches).


Travelling and Accommodation: participants are encouraged to find their own financial support.


Send to:

Secretariat of the Conference

Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences

Prof. Dr Philippe Goyens

Permanent Secretary

av. Louise 231 / Louizalaan 231  




Fax: (0032)(0)2 539 23 53


Écrire commentaire

Commentaires: 0

Centre de recherches en histoire du droit, des institutions et de la société