The Leopard, the Lion, and the Cock

Colonial Memories and Monuments in Belgium

Matthew Stanard

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Monograph - paperback

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Thought-provoking reflection on culture, colonialism, and the remainders of empire in Belgium after 1960

The degree to which the late colonial era affected Europe has been long underappreciated, and only recently have European countries started to acknowledge not having come to terms with decolonisation. In Belgium, the past two decades have witnessed a growing awareness of the controversial episodes in the country’s colonial past. This volume examines the long-term effects and legacies of the colonial era on Belgium after 1960, the year the Congo gained its independence, and calls into question memories of the colonial past by focusing on the meaning and place of colonial monuments in public space.

The book foregrounds the enduring presence of “empire” in everyday Belgian life in the form of permanent colonial markers in bronze and stone, lieux de mémoire of the country’s history of overseas expansion. By means of photographs and explanations of major pro-colonial memorials, as well as several obscure ones, the book reveals the surprising degree to which Belgium became infused with a colonialist spirit during the colonial era.

Another key component of the analysis is an account of the varied ways in which both Dutch- and French-speaking Belgians approached the colonial past after 1960, treating memorials variously as objects of veneration, with indifference, or as symbols to be attacked or torn down. The book provides a thought-provoking reflection on culture, colonialism, and the remainders of empire in Belgium after 1960.

Free digital appendix: detailed list of monuments in Belgium linked to the country’s colonial past

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).
List of Illustrations 
Acronyms and Abbreviations 
Chapter 1: Belgians and the Colonial Experience before 1960 
Chapter 2: Reminders and Remainders of Empire, 1960-1967 
Chapter 3: Quiescence, 1967-1985 
Chapter 4: Commemoration and Nostalgia, 1985-1994 
Chapter 5: A New Generation, 1994-2010 
Chapter 6: 2010 and Beyond 

Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 234 × 156 × 23 mm

338 pages

ISBN: 9789462701793

Publication: April 11, 2019

Languages: English

Stock item number: 127860

Matthew G. Stanard is professor of history at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia, USA.
The result is absolutely impressive. Stanard has succeeded in painting a many-coloured picture of the varieties and evolutions of the Belgian perception of its colony.
Goddeeris, I., BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 135(1), pp.70–94.

The book does provide a much needed contribution to scholarship and a comprehensive resource for teaching that clearly demonstrates how, despite having been ‘one of Europe’s “lesser” imperial powers’ (p. 31), the colonial period has had a lasting and pervasive effect on Belgian society and politics.


Il n’empêche : M.G. Stanard a fait le point. La lecture de son ouvrage constitue désormais un passage obligé pour tout qui voudra prendre part aux débats sociaux sur lesquels pèsent encore le passé colonial de la Belgique. Une histoire renouvelée, notamment sur la base de cet ouvrage, doit être enseignée et transmise ; une histoire connectée autant aux enjeux socio-culturels du présent qu’aux derniers résultats de la recherche en sciences humaines et sociales. Pourvu que les éditeurs saisissent l’occasion de traduire cet ouvrage afin qu’il soit lu par le plus grand nombre. Pour que les voix critiques ne soient pas à nouveau étouffées lors des prochaines commémorations…
Romain Landmeters, Contemporanea, Jaargang XLII — Jaar 2020 — Nummer 1

A bien des égards, cet ouvrage était attendu. Non seulement il contribue à rendre intelligible l’impact colonial dans l’espace culturel et public belge au travers de l’histoire des monuments coloniaux, mais il instruit toute une série de questions sur la manière dont l’identité nationale belge s’articule au passé colonial.
Sarah Demart, H-France Review, Vol. 19 (November 2019), No. 257

Stanards studie van de verschuivingen in postkoloniale mentalités is verfrissend omdat ze naast de heftige emoties die met dekolonisatie gepaard gaan ook ruimte laat voor de onverschilligheid waarmee veel Belgen zich door het koloniale landschap bewegen. Het kolonialistische straatbeeld in België, met zijn patriottische lieux de mémoire, overleefde 1960 namelijk. De beelden die de revue passeren zijn relieken uit het koloniale tijdperk: hun esthetiek en thematiek ademen de Belgische beschavingsmissie. 
Kristof Smeyers, de Nederlandse Boekengids

This book is timely and will certainly be a useful contribution to the public debate. It presents, for the first time, an impressive overview of the colonial remnants in the Belgian land- and cityscape.
Guy Vanthemsche, Vrije Universiteit Brussel