2004
Volume 125, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

This article discusses the Belgian parliamentary commission of inquiry (2000-02) that investigated Belgium’s role in the murder of the Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961. Although there is a long tradition of parliamentary inquiries in Belgium, the Lumumba Commission was relatively unusual because it focused on an older past and subcontracted a substantial part of its research to a group of academic experts. Supporters of this commissioned history pre-empted possible criticism of the politicisation of academics by stressing that there had been a clear division of labour between experts and politicians. However, it is argued here that this distinction between academia and politics was more problematic than it seemed. Two theses are defended: first that the Commission was not directed primarily to produce new knowledge, but instead (political) ‘acknowledgement’. Rather than as a substantial contribution to historiography, the work of the commission is considered here primarily as a ‘translationstruggle’ in which existing historiography was restyled to fit the procedure of parliamentary decision-making. In this ‘translation-struggle’ – the article’s second thesis – no clear line can be drawn between the work of the experts and that of the parliamentarians. On many levels the experts did more political work than the politicians. However, this did not result from partisanship by the experts, nor active interference by the politicians, but from attitudes of the experts: they (probably unconsciously) appropriated some of the meta-political values and the habitus of their law-making employers. This had a number of negative effects which are analyzed further.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.5117/TVGESCH2012.1.BEVE
2012-02-01
2021-10-24
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.5117/TVGESCH2012.1.BEVE
Loading
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error