La Pauvre Belgique: The Biographical Tradition in Belgium

Veltman, D., 21-Sep-2018.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

Belgium has often been called ‘La pauvre Belgique’, after the famous pamphlet by the French poet Charles Baudelaire. Indeed, the biographical tradition of the country can be called pauvre, poor. Although there’s no lack of attention for national heroes of the past, this attention used to be divided between the country’s two language communities. Until recently, the French- and Dutch-speaking communities in Belgium were deeply divided by mutual prejudice and incomprehension. Especially when the remembrance of the Second World War was at stake, the critical reception of biography often made use of clichés: all Flemish people were collaborators, for example, or all Walloon people were part of the resistance movement. This debate is reflected in Belgian biography: it was often difficult to get federal funding for a biographical research that was only related to one of the two language communities.
Original languageDutch
Publication statusPublished - 21-Sep-2018
EventDifferent Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies - Doopsgezinde Kerk, Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 19-Sep-201821-Sep-2018


ConferenceDifferent Lives
Internet address


Different Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies


Groningen, Netherlands

Event: Conference

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