Between success and failure. Mediators of Walloon culture (1880-1930)

Project: Research

Project Details


Recent studies have demonstrated that the construction of cultural identities
in the 19th and 20th centuries was intimately connected to intra- and
international transfers in the fields of art and literature. These transfers were
enacted by a handful of cultural mediators who exchanged, translated, and
manipulated cultural discourses across various borders. Yet the traditional
historical focus on successful processes has overshadowed the crucial fact
that many of these intercultural initiatives failed to result in legitimate cultural
constructions. The Walloon cultural identity, which is called weak today, due
to a perceived lack of a proper language, of founding myths, of canonized
literature and art, etc. seems to have missed its process of cultural
legitimation. Between 1880 and 1930, however, one witnesses a real quest
for a Walloon identity, including a proliferation of cultural transfer activities
by mediating figures such as Jean Stecher, Jean Haust or Emma Lambotte.
They translated Walloon literature, composed anthologies, set up
exhibitions of Walloon art, promoted Walloon identity in international
journals, etc. Through an interdisciplinary approach that draws on
Translation Studies, Literary Studies, Cultural History, Sociology and
Complexity Theory, my project will explore the intricate and unpredictable
interactions between local intercultural mediators’ activities and global
cultural identity dynamics. By following key mediators of Walloon culture
during different phases of (successful and less successful) national and
regional identity building, this project will reveal surprising transfer
mechanisms that challenge Belgian cultural and literary historiography.
Ultimately, it will open up new avenues for thinking through cultural identity
negotiation in relation to interculturality, multilingualism and translation and,
as such, engage in dialogue with current society issues.
Short titleMWC
Effective start/end date1/10/1730/09/20

Attachment to an Research Institute in UNAMUR



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