Accepted paper:

Burundian, Congolese and Rwandan in Brussels city after WWII. Cultivated immigrants in (de-)colonial context


Romain Landmeters (UCLouvain Saint-Louis - Bruxelles)

Paper short abstract:

This paper consists of a first prosopographical approach of the Burundian, Congolese and Rwandan that immigrated to Brussels between 1945 and 1960. In particular, this study focuses on their training from the colony to Belgian universities and their inscription in the Brussels' urban landscape.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is a first step in my PhD project which consists of a prosopographical study of the Burundian, Congolese and Rwandan cultural elites that immigrated to Belgium between 1945 and 1975. Using a historical perspective, I intend to reinforce the attempts of civil society actors and social scientists to analyze the discriminations suffered by Afro-descendants in today's Belgium in relation to history and colonial memories. The central hypothesis of my study is the following: these cultural elites have presumably been sidelined by Belgian authorities throughout the decolonization process. After the Second World War, Belgium gradually authorized some contingents of "privileged" visitors from the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi to enter the metropolitan territory; we assume that most of them are students or seminarians until independence (1960-1962). We know that their mode of migration differs completely from the waves of Italian, Moroccan and Turkish immigration, based on international and economic agreements. However, we wonder what was the impact of this dissimilarity on the place accorded by the Belgian authorities to each other. Thanks to the Brussels' administrative archives of the Foreigners Police, I will identify these literate immigrants, trace their journey from the colony to the metropole and highlight the common characteristics of this social group. Can we consider them all as elites? What was their basic education and what curriculum did they choose? Which universities did they favor? In which neighborhoods did they settle? I want to answer these questions before addressing their - anticolonial? - intellectual production.

panel His16
Shaping hearts and mindsĀ : African elites' training from the colonial era to the present