Belgium and the Congo, 1885-1980

Belgium and the Congo, 1885-1980

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While the impact of a colonising metropole on subjected territories has been widely scrutinized, the effect of empire on the colonising country has long been neglected. Recently, many studies have examined the repercussions of their respective empires on colonial powers such as the United Kingdom and France. Belgium and its African empire have been conspicuously absent from this discussion. This book attempts to fill this gap. Belgium and the Congo, 1885-1980 examines the effects of colonialism on the domestic politics, diplomacy and economics of Belgium, from 1880 - when King Leopold II began the country's expansionist enterprises in Africa - to the 1980s, well after the Congo's independence in June of 1960. By examining the colonial impact on its mother country Belgium, this study also contributes to a better understanding of Congo's past and present.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 2 b/w illus. 4 tables
  • 1139368079
  • 9781139368070

Table of contents

1. The origin of the colonial phenomenon in Belgium and its main developments up until 1960; 2. The Congo and Belgium's domestic policy; 3. The Congo and Belgium's external position; 4. The Congo and the Belgian economy; 5. Belgium and the independent Congo.
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About Guy Vanthemsche

Guy Vanthemsche is Professor of Contemporary History at Free University Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). Professor Vanthemsche is also Secretary of the Royal Commission of History in Belgium. He is co-director of the Belgium-based journal Revue Belge de Philogie et d'Histoire.
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Review quote

'This is an important book that provides the first scholarly study of the impact that the acquisition of the Congo had on Belgium. It is an important contribution to the history of European colonialism, but also to understanding the contemporary history of the Congo.' Martin Conway, University of Oxford 'An indispensable - indeed unique - economic, social, and political history of Belgium and the Congo.' Wm. Roger Louis, University of Texas, Austin 'Guy Vanthemsche's exploration of the influence of the massive colony at the very center of the African continent on the small European nation that inherited it from a king with imperial ambitions is captivating. Vanthemsche, one of Belgium's leading contemporary historians, is perfectly placed to invert the traditional studies of Belgium in the Congo with his meticulously researched, thoroughly documented, subtly probing, compelling investigation of how the Congo shaped the domestic politics, foreign relations, and economic development of Belgium. Belgium and the Congo, 1885-1980, rich in nuance, will be crucial reading alongside the studies ranging from the gruesome tales of King Leopold's Congo to the accounts of the politics of decolonization in France and Britain.' Janet Polasky, Presidential Professor of History, University of New Hampshire 'Guy Vanthemsche provides an authoritative and detailed account of the history of Belgian linkages with the Congo, colonial and postcolonial. This invaluable and richly documented volume is an indispensable source for understanding both Belgian and Congolese history. Balanced and judicious, the book is also an invaluable guide to the published sources on this subject, which receive exhaustive coverage.' Crawford Young, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison 'Having synthesized the political and economic dimensions of imperialism in Belgium, Vanthemsche has written a well-documented and fascinating work which will be a reference point for historiographical research on Congolese-Belgian relations for decades to come.' Ulrich Tiedau, European History Quarterly 'Vanthemsche has produced an important study of Belgian colonial rule, which will be a useful source for future studies on this topic. It deserves a wide readership among specialists on the Congo and on European colonialism more generally.' David N. Gibbs, The Journal of Modern History
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