Chantal Kesteloot

Cegesoma

Chantal Kesteloot is doctor in contemporary history. She has joined the team of the Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society/State Archives in 1992. She is currently in charge of the sector public history. Her main areas of interest are the history of Brussels and the memory of the war; issues of nationalism and national identities.

Among her latest publications, « Verso la Public History. Rappresentazioni e commemorazioni delle guerre mondiali in Belgio », in Memoria e Ricerca. Rivista di Storia Contemporanea 2017/1, pp. 41-60, « De la séparation administrative au nationalisme belge : la quête identitaire du mouvement wallon à la faveur de la Grande Guerre », in Sylvain Gregori & Jean-Paul Pellegrinetti (dir.), Minorités, identités régionales et nationales en guerre 1914-1918, PUR, Rennes, 2017, (with Bruno Benvindo), Bruxelles, ville occupée, 1914-1918, La Renaissance du Livre, 2016, (with Mélanie Bost), Les commémorations de la Première Guerre mondiale (Courrier hebdomadaire du CRISP, n°2235-2236), Brussels, 2014; (with Laurence van Ypersele and Emmanuel Debruyne), Brussels. Memory and War (1914-2014), Brussels, La Renaissance du Livre, 2014; "The role of the War in National Societies: The Examples of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Nederlands", in Jörg Echternkamp & Stefan Martens (dir.), Experience and Memory. The Second World War in Europe, Oxford, Berghahn, 2010.

The Great War One Hundred Years On

From Exultation to Indifference (Belgium, 2014 - 2018)?

At a time when the commemorations of the centenary end, the purpose of this contribution is to sketch a first reflection. What was the role of institutional actors? In what way and how were historians associated with it?What are the big markers of these unprecedented events at both Belgian and international levels?

The commemorations of the Centenary of the First World War was an excellent test for understanding the functioning of Belgian federalism. All the federated entities and the federal government have played a more or less important role, revealing specific political agendas that are as much about their positioning on the Belgian (and international) level as their respective interest for the First World War. These commemorations were also indicative of extremely strong local dynamics that partly contrast with scientific research, which is increasingly part of transnational or comparative perspectives.

At a time when there are no more witnesses and where the monumental memory is no longer understandable by the new generations, one of the major preoccupations has been to make sense and to draw on a register of contemporary values even if it blurs the classic reading grids of the past. At the time of this first assessment, the eye will also be on new tools - commemorations in the digital era - and new practices - forms of re-enactment - without neglecting the importance of the media and the logic which have weighed heavily on this "great centenary".

At a time when the commemorations of the centenary end, the purpose of this contribution is to sketch a first reflection. What was the role of institutional actors? In what way and how were historians associated with it? What are the big markers of these unprecedented events at both Belgian and international levels? The commemorations of the Centenary of the First World War was an excellent test for understanding the functioning of Belgian federalism.

All the federated entities and the federal government have played a more or less important role, revealing specific political agendas that are as much about their positioning on the Belgian (and international) level as their respective interest for the First World War. These commemorations were also indicative of extremely strong local dynamics that partly contrast with scientific research, which is increasingly part of transnational or comparative perspectives.

At a time when there are no more witnesses and where the monumental memory is no longer understandable by the new generations, one of the major preoccupations has been to make sense and to draw on a register of contemporary values even if it blurs the classic reading grids of the past. At the time of this first assessment, the eye will also be on new tools - commemorations in the digital era - and new practices - forms of re-enactment - without neglecting the importance of the media and the logic which have weighed heavily on this "great centenary".

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