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Marguerite Silvestre


Philippe Vandermaelen, the Mercator of young Belgium

This article presents the conclusions of a book published concomitantly by the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique: Philippe Vandermaelen, Mercator de la jeune Belgique. Histoire de l’Établissement géographique de Bruxelles et de son fondateur. This publication is the result of twenty-five years of research in the Maps & Plans section, the depository of the exceptional cartographic and documentary collection from the Établissement géographique de Bruxelles. The article and work it refers to present the life of the visionary geographer in a chronological journey centred on his cartographic production (methodology, collaborations, surveys, levelling, commercial management, etc.), ending with a passing of the baton to the Dépôt de la Guerre, the future Institut géographique national. It also opens the doors to Vandermaelen’s different institutional creations in a cross-cutting approach: the documentation centre, the natural history gallery, the lithography school and the École Normale, the museum of ethnography, and the organisation of scientific expeditions.


Catherine Xhardez


The integration of new immigrants in Brussels: 
an institutional and political puzzle

In Belgium, the Brussels-Capital Region constitutes the main gateway for international migration. Like everywhere in Europe, the challenge of immigration and in particular what happens afterwards, namely the integration of new immigrants in the host society, is particularly palpable in Brussels. Within the Belgian federal state, the federated entities have implemented different integration policies. Recently, these policies have experienced major upheavals, especially in Brussels where the result raises questions. Different (and possibly competing) institutions are competent, and today there are two civic integration programmes in the same territory: one from the Dutch-speaking community and the other from the French-speaking community. The aim of this article is to examine these policies by placing them in the particularly complex institutional context of Brussels. This involves studying and understanding the institutional labyrinth in which these policies exist, as well as describing them in order to compare them. This institutional puzzle has consequences for the stakeholders, i.e. the authorities and the migrants themselves.

The spatial distribution of open-street CCTV in the Brussels-Capital Region

Since its introduction in the early 1990s in Brussels, open-street CCTV has grown both in scope and in its purpose. The camera network of the Belgian capital city has undergone successive waves of extension, gradually gaining ground both physically and ideologically. In this article, we propose to investigate the geographical extension and distribution of open-street cameras in Brussels, as well as the underlying policies and rationale. We have produced a detailed map of the spatial distribution of open-street cameras at the scale of the city region. In addition to a spatial analysis, a series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with public authorities and local police. The CCTV network in Brussels is entangled in a context of global city competition and the neoliberal governance of insecurity, which prompted us to consider the uptake of video surveillance in light of the local political economy.

When traffic light management prefigures mobility choices. The strategic challenges of a technical tool

This article opens the black box of the remote controlled traffic light system used by public transport in Brussels. This technical device redistributes the temporal sharing of space in favour of public transport, which allows the constant erosion of the commercial speed faced by the Société de transports intercommunaux de Bruxelles (STIB) to be halted, thus cutting back on operational costs. Our objective is to make sense of this technical device and to highlight the underlying political challenges in terms of the management of space. At the heart of discussions on remote controlled traffic lights is of course the question of the respective role of public transport and cars in the context of a very high level of road congestion. We also wish to emphasise the relatively invisible work of the administration (in this case Bruxelles Mobilité) in its capacity to create compromises – with their advantages and disadvantages – so that a project is able to function within the Brussels “ecosystem”.

BSI synopsis. The traces of World War I in Brussels

The hundredth anniversary of World War I has put the spotlight on this period once again. The media coverage of the commemorations is unprecedented and even surprising for a conflict which has remained in the memorial shadow of the even more deadly World War II. While there was every reason to believe that the Great War was only a distant memory, it must also be noted that it is still the object of true curiosity on the part of the general public.

The hundredth anniversary has also led to a number of publications, most of which are in keeping with the revival of historical research surrounding World War I for the past twenty years or so.  The case of Belgium – the scene of fighting in a territory which was almost completely occupied – has thus been well studied. However, while several recent studies have used Brussels as a framework, a global summary specifically devoted to the capital does not exist. This synopsis thus summarises the material traces and immaterial heritage of the conflict in Brussels.

The aim is therefore not to trace the history of Brussels during World War I or to present the latest works on this subject, but rather to answer some simple questions asked by the inhabitants of Brussels today: What remains of World War I in the capital? Who is interested in it, and why? How does this conflict resonate today in Brussels’ memories? How are they reflected in the urban space? In other words, this synopsis reverses the historical temporality to observe the results of the sifting of time.