2004
Volume 126, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

During the 1970s Belgian academic historians added recent history to the academic history course. Recent history, referring to the period from the First World War to the present day, was recognized as a subdiscipline of contemporary history. Belgian research institutes of twentieth-century history emerged. It is little known that it was the protagonists of Belgian history education, and not academic historians, who from the 1940s promoted the integration of recent history. In history education, academic historians’ common objections to the study of the supposedly ‘too close’ and ‘subjective’ recent history were outweighed by ethical and societal imperatives. Democratic citizenship education demanded closer examination of the world wars and was stimulated by UNESCO’s and the Council of Europe’s peace education projects. Official encouragement to research recent history was also lacking, due to troubled Belgian war memories. Yet Belgian proponents of history education founded international commissions to stimulate study of the Second World War. The impact of these educational initiatives was felt in the inclusion of recent history in Belgian history textbooks and the academic institutionalization of recent history. Yet the promotion of a conciliatory approach to the Second World War clashed with internal community conflicts resulting from a regionalization of war memories.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
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