Community, Control and Commons. Access to Land, Use Rights and Social Power Relations in the Belgian Ardennes between 1750 and 1900

01 October 2018 → 30 September 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Curatorial and related studies
    • History
    • Other history and archaeology
    • Art studies and sciences
    • Artistic design
    • Audiovisual art and digital media
    • Heritage
    • Music
    • Theatre and performance
    • Visual arts
    • Other arts
    • Product development
    • Study of regions
Social Power Relations the Belgian Ardennes History
Project description

This research project aims to reassess historiographical debates on shifting power relations in rural communities during the transition period 1750-1900, when village communities were gradually incorporated into modern society in Western Europe. The ambition of this project is to approach these shifts by analysing social property relations, which appear at the heart of power struggles between and among local actors, regional parties and state representatives. Currently, historians all too often restrict their focus to the existence of private and secure property rights, which is an insufficient and all too narrow approach to the problem. The innovation of this proposal is to perform in-depth socio-historical research of broad and complex bundles of use rights, as opposed to a one-sided design. The Ardennes, located in the very south of present-day Belgium offer an excellent case study to realize these ambitions, since a unique combination of small peasant ownership and various sets of common use rights survived throughout the period of rural
transformation. As such, the research project will zoom in on the changing (1) formal regulations, (2) actual distribution of land rights and (3) underlying social practices of negotiation and conflict. Ultimately, this three pronged research design will be implemented by placing in-depth sourcebased
and long-term analysis of the Ardennes in a comparative interregional perspective within Western-Europe.