IMMIBEL PROJECT OUTLINE
The IMMIBEL project is a collaboration between the State Archives of Belgium, the VUB, ULB and Antwerp University. The project is at the crossroads of migration history, maritime history, the history of science and technology and of social policy.
The project is a BRAIN-project that uses cross- and interdisciplinary analysis to investigate the scale, chronology and nature of the 19th century migration to Belgium and to investigate the political, economic, social and cultural dimensions of interactions of foreigners with different layers of Belgian society. It focuses on an exceptional period in European and Belgian history (1840-1890), 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.
For this project a series of exceptionally rich, but extremely underexploited archival series of the federal historical heritage of the State Archives will be valorised, among which more than 150.000 individual foreigners’ files in the “first series” of the Sûreté Publique (1840-1890), c. 40.000 entries to the seamen’s registry, c. 13.000 royal expulsion decrees, c. 2.700 denization files and c. 4800 naturalization applications over the same period. Making optimal use of the possibilities of ‘digital history’ and record linkage combined with statistical, GIS, life course, social network and qualitative analysis, the great strength of the proposed methodology lies in its possibility to combine aggregate quantitative analysis with in-depth qualitative analysis, to combine cross-sectional with longitudinal analysis, and to combine diachronic with spatial comparisons. At the moment the data are being inserted into databases that will be integrated in the search engine and website repository of the State Archives. The accessibility of these exceptionally rich archival series will be greatly enhanced both for the interested public and for further academic research.
The project will focus on three subgroups:
expelled and unwanted foreigners (interactions with a repressive state policy (VUB)
Seamen, working in an internationally oriented labour market (UA)
Actors of Knowledge (scientists, technicians, scholars) who spread new ideas and technologies in the wake of Belgium’s progression towards the second industrial revolution.
By focussing on the socio-cultural confrontations and interactions of these groups with different layers and dimensions of Belgian society, this project aims to identify and evaluate the social, cultural, political and economic impact of encounters and confrontations that emanated from 19-th century international mobility. The sources allow for an analysis of the structural conditions, scale and nature of aggregate migration flows (macro-level), the role of policy regulations, social networks, contacts and streams of information and communication that channel migrants along patterned circuits (meso-level) and the individual and household characteristics (micro-level). Each level of analysis, moreover, requires distinct research methods, ranging from quantitative aggregate statistics to qualitative analysis of individual biographies.
Clusters of Foreign Migrants in Belgium.
Who where they? Where did they come from and what did they do? This project dives into the history of 19th century Belgian immigrants.
This project aims to investigate the scale and nature of socio-cultural encounters and confrontation that emanated from foreign migration to Belgium between 1840 and 1890.