Open Access

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Matthias Buschmeier | European Literatures of Military Occupation

Matthias Buschmeier is an associate professor (Akademischer Direktor) for German Literature in the European Context at Bielefeld University.

To my surprise, these narratives did not center on combat or the war itself; instead, they depicted life alongside the occupiers.

What does it mean to live under occupation? How does it shape the culture and identities of European nations? How does it affect the way we write and read literature? Focusing on the literary works of writers from various European countries that were occupied by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or the Allies during and after World War II, the editors of European Literatures of Military Occupation seek to unravel the complex interplay between historical circumstances and literary expression. A Q&A with one of its two editors, Matthias Buschmeier

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.

The book stands out for categorizing ‘occupation literature’ as a unique genre and for showing how this literature reflects the complex relationships between occupier and occupied, and how these relations affect European identities through remembrance and representation of these historical events up to our very present.

Our book explores the impact of military occupation on Europe’s cultural and national identities, particularly through literature. It investigates how living under the control of foreign powers during and after World War II—be it Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or the Allies—has influenced the way European writers express themselves, and asks why the topic of military occupation is still and again very present in our contemporary literature. The contributors offer a mix of theoretical insights and specific examples from many European theatres of occupation in the 20th century, and how they are represented in literature.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?

I came across a photograph depicting the occupation in Paris, which appeared to be staged for propaganda purposes, as were many such images. It portrayed a Parisian café where German soldiers were seen sipping coffee, perusing newspapers, and conversing with, supposedly, Parisian women. Shortly thereafter, I immersed myself inseveral novels from different European literatures, anticipating examples of ‘war literature’. To my surprise, these narratives did not center on combat or the war itself; instead, they depicted life alongside the occupiers.

As a German, I was struck by the absence of stark dichotomies portraying German occupiers as wholly evil and the occupied in constant open resistance (although there certainly was at least one evil SS officer in each novel). It became evident that living under occupation meant navigating a complex social and moral landscape, one that defied the simplistic narratives prevalent in many post-war European countries. It also became clear that the very distinct experiences of German occupation in Eastern Europe and among the European Jewish population led to different modes of representation and literary techniques. Eager to deepen my understanding of these dynamics, I sought insights from scholars across Europe, recognizing that military occupation was a collective European ordeal spanning from 1938 to 1953, extending beyond just the German Occupation.

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?

I can highly recommend the website and blog of the “Occupation Studies” network which is hosted by network convenors Camilo Erlichman at Maastricht University and Christopher Knowles from King’s College London. Furthermore, the “Societies-under-German-Occupation” network offers on its website a unique collection of sources about the everyday experience of military occupation during World War II from various European contexts, translated into English. In fall 2024, Tatjana Tönsmeier, one of the leading scholars in the field of Occupation Studies, will publish her book Unter Deutscher Besatzung [Under German Occupation], and I am sure that will also be a milestone of reference.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?

Having previously conducted comparative and international research with authors from diverse backgrounds, it’s always fascinating to witness the unique perspectives that emerge from varied academic and intellectual traditions. Honestly, my familiarity with Georgian authors’ thoughts and writings on their experiences under different occupational regimes was quite limited. As an editor, this meant placing my trust in the accuracy of quotations from original sources, despite not understanding their content. It’s a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle in the dark, hoping that each piece is correctly shaped and trusting that the image will eventually come together to reveal the big picture.

 What would you like readers to remember about your book?

It would be gratifying if readers could retain the essence of Jeroen Olyslaeger’s chapter, which deals with the intellectual journey and concepts of a literary author who wrote his compelling novel as a profound exploration of the German occupation of Antwerp. Furthermore, it would be immensely satisfying if the methodical reflections presented in the introduction serve as a catalyst for other scholars to further investigate this subject. This volume is intended to be a springboard, initiating discourse rather than presenting conclusive remarks on the matter.

Your book is published open access thanks to the partial support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. How did the open access publication process go? What makes open access so attractive for you/your book? Have you thus far noticed that your book reaches a wider audience?

We are very happy and grateful that the book can be published Open Access with the support of the KU Leuven and Bielefeld University Fund. Furthermore, the University of Luxembourg also helped immensely to bring our results to the public. All the institutions made it very easy to apply for funds, and the whole publication process was handled very professionally, but still in a very short time, which is becoming more and more important for scholary careers these days.

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about? Would you consider publishing the book open access?

Currently, I am in the process of negotiating a Ukrainian translation for  my book titled “Guilt: A Force of Cultural Transformation.” This endeavour is only possible with the support of Open Access funding, which ensures that the work is accessible to readers who may be isolated from their academic resources. As far as I am concerned, the synergy of a printed edition for archival purposes, coupled with the electronic Open Access format for immediate, effortless, and unrestricted global reach, aligns seamlessly with the contemporary academic requirements.

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The Open Book Collective welcomes Leuven University Press

Open Book Collective

We are delighted that Leuven University Press is one of three University Presses to join the OBC this month, with each offering a new Supporter Programme available for university libraries and other supporters to subscribe to.

Find more information about the Leuven University Press’ programme >

The OBC is a charity working to deliver a diverse and sustainable future for open access books and publisher members are crucial to that. OBC believes in collectivism, non-competition, and the need to reimagine the funding of open access books, to move beyond a reliance on Book Processing Charges. The OBC gathers together a range of open access presses and publishing initiatives that fit our membership criteria, creating a trusted group of open access initiatives for libraries to support and for authors and readers to explore. In this way, the OBC assists publishers in securing sustainable revenue streams to fund a fair future for open access books.

Leuven University Press
Nienke Roelants

Open Book Collective

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Leuven University Press partners with The Wikipedia Library to enhance global knowledge sharing

The Wikipedia Library

PRESS RELEASE –  Leuven, Belgium – 26 oktober 2023 – Leuven University Press is pleased to announce a new partnership with The Wikipedia Library, a project of The Wikimedia Foundation – the global non-profit organisation that hosts Wikipedia – that will allow the encyclopaedia’s active volunteer editors full-text access to more than 400 online books.   

The Wikipedia Library’s aim is to connect Wikipedia’s volunteer editors with high-quality source materials that can help to increase the verifiability and reliability of the content hosted on the platform. Through this collaboration, the press is contributing to the free knowledge movement and reaffirming its commitment to promoting Open Science.

Nienke Roelants, Director of Leuven University Press, is enthusiastic about the partnership: “Our collaboration with The Wikipedia Library fits seamlessly with our commitment to the global dissemination of knowledge and academic rigour. By making our collection of online books available to Wikipedia editors, we are contributing to the democratisation of information and fostering a culture of reliable citation”.

“We’re excited to have Leuven University Press join the Wikipedia Library’s network of partner organisations,” said Sam Walton, Senior Product Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, “Wikipedia’s global community of volunteer editors have created policies to ensure the knowledge hosted on the site is neutral, reliably sourced, and verified. With access to the extensive range of publications from Leuven University Press now available on the Wikipedia Library,  Wikipedia’s editors can continue to improve the quality of information on the encyclopaedia.”

Key benefits of this partnership include: 

  1. Enhanced credibility: Wikipedia editors will have access to peer-reviewed, academically sound sources, allowing them to add more citations to strengthen the credibility of Wikipedia articles. 
  1. Broadened scope: A wider range of topics on Wikipedia will benefit from the information in Leuven University Press’s extensive publications, helping Wikipedia editors to close knowledge gaps on the platform.
  2. Global impact: The impact of this collaboration will extend to a global audience of knowledge seekers, ensuring the dissemination of accurate information.

About The Wikipedia Library

The Wikipedia Library, a project of The Wikimedia Foundation, provides free access to research materials to improve editors’ ability to contribute content to Wikimedia Projects.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organisation that operates Wikipedia and other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects; build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content; support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.

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Leuven University Press joins ScienceOpen

Science Open


To amplify the reach and impact of our publications, we recently joined ScienceOpen. It reflects our commitment to advancing Open Science, fostering collaboration, and providing a robust platform for the scholarly community.

On ScienceOpen, books and book chapters by Leuven University Press will be presented in a dedicated collection where readers can easily narrow down the list of publications by type of publication, publication date, name of author or many other filters embedded as efficient discovery and search tools.

Follow the collection to get a notification as soon as new books will go live in the Leuven University Press collection.

ScienceOpen is a discovery platform with interactive features for scholars to enhance their research in the open, make an impact, and receive credit for it. The platform provides context building services for publishers, to bring researchers closer to the content.

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Convert your backlist title to Open Access

Open Access

True to its mission as a not-for-profit academic publisher, Leuven University Press fully embraces Open Access. 

To further underline the importance we attach to Open Access and Open Science, we want to make our backlist titles as freely available as possible.

Authors who published a traditional (non-Open Access) book with Leuven University Press between 2 and 5 years ago, can have their book converted to Open Access. Fees range between 1500 and 3000 EUR + VAT.

Contact us at for more information

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Leuven University Press participates in Path to Open pilot

Path to Open

We’re excited to announce our participation in Path to Open, a program to support the open access publication of new groundbreaking scholarly books that will bring diverse perspectives and research to millions of people.

Launching as a pilot, Path to Open libraries will contribute funds to enable participating presses – including Leuven University Press – to publish new books on JSTOR that will transition from licensed to open access within three years of publication. The initial pilot will produce about one thousand open access monographs. If successful, it will lay the foundation for an entirely new way to fund long-form scholarship while vastly increasing its impact.

Path to Open was shaped through discussions convened by the American Council of Learned Societies of university presses, library leaders, and scholars. This new community-supported funding model will provide libraries with affordable access to diverse, high-quality frontlist titles, support sustainable university press publishing in the humanities and social sciences, help authors reach a global audience, and advance equity of access to underserved researchers around the world.

First Leuven University Press titles to join the Path to Open program:

Ferenczi Dialogues. On Trauma and Catastrophe, Raluca Soreanu, Jakob Staberg, and Jenny Willner
Living Politics in the City. Architecture as Catalyst for Public Space, edited by Marion Hohlfeldt and Carmen Popescu

The ebooks will be available at JSTOR in October 2023, the Open Access ebooks will be released in 2026.

Interested in Path to Open?

Authors interested in learning more about this program can send an email to or contact:

Managing director & Publisher
Nienke Roelants

Acquisitions Editor
Mirjam Truwant

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Maïka De Keyzer | Tot de bodem

Maïka De Keyzer


De uitdagingen voor onze landbouw mogen dan misschien wel zeer uitdagend zijn, we hebben voldoende kennis en constructieve voorstellen om een duurzaam en sociaal rechtvaardig landbouwbeleid uit te stippelen. 

De vurige debatten rond de stikstofproblematiek, de droogte, het biodiversiteitsverlies, de seizoensarbeid en de overmatige vleesproductie en -consumptie hebben landbouw weer helemaal op de maatschappelijke en politieke agenda gezet. De vraag dringt zich stilaan op of we in Vlaanderen en Europa effectief nog op een duurzame en economisch rendabele manier aan landbouw kunnen doen en hoe die landbouw dan vorm moet krijgen. Het huidige debat is sterk polariserend: landbouw versus ecologie, vermarkting versus subsistentie, schaalvergroting versus familiebedrijven, comparatieve voordelen en specialisatie versus diversiteit, enzovoort. Met het boek Tot de bodem wil editor Maïka De Keyzer de klassieke tegenstellingen doorbreken.

Leg in één zin uit waar het boek over gaat.
Tot de bodem biedt een eerste aanzet voor een coherent en progressief landbouwbeleid voor Vlaanderen.

Wat of wie heeft je geïnspireerd om voor dit onderwerp te kiezen?
Als historica verdiep ik me al geruime tijd in ecologische en agrarische geschiedenis. Het fascineert me om te onderzoeken waarom bepaalde maatschappijen kwetsbaar en anderen veerkrachtig zijn. Dat lokte me al richting onze huidige landbouwproblematiek. Maar de doorslag kwam door een specifiek boek: De Graanrepubliek van Frank Westerman. In het boek beschrijft Westerman de opkomst en neergang van de sociaaldemocratische politicus Sicco Mansholt. Het trof me dat sinds zijn periode als eurocommissaris landbouw zelden tot nooit progressieve en coherente landbouwplannen werden ontwikkeld voor Vlaanderen of Europa. Ik besloot dat daar verandering in moest komen en contacteerde daarom de medeauteurs van het boek met de vraag wat er zou moeten veranderen aan ons beleid om een progressief landbouwbeleid te verkrijgen. Het boek is het resultaat van die zoektocht. 

Heb je leestips  – boeken, blogs, tijdschriften, … – voor wie meer over het onderwerp wil weten?
Zeker en vast. De Graanrepubliek van Frank Westerman is uiteraard al een aanbeveling. Daarnaast zou ik ook Stille Aarde van Dave Goulson, 10 miljard monden van Ingrid de Zwarte en Jeroen Candel, Tomatoland van Barry Estabrook, Sitopia en De hongerige stad van Carolyn Steel en Donuteconomie van Kate Raworth willen aanbevelen. De boeken gaan niet allemaal specifiek over landbouw en al helemaal niet over Vlaanderen of België, maar ze zijn de ultieme inspiratie als het gaat over goede wetenschap of onderzoeksjournalistiek. Ze fileren verschillende maatschappelijke problematieken op een glasheldere manier en bieden tegelijk constructieve en coherente oplossingen aan. 

Hoe verliep het schrijfproces voor dit boek? Heb je iets verrassends, grappigs of vreemds meegemaakt?
Als editor heb ik het voorrecht gehad om met een enorm diverse groep auteurs samen te werken. Dat is leerrijk maar soms ook uitdagend. Academici moesten hun vertrouwde vakjargon achterlaten, terwijl de auteurs vanuit het middenveld of de landbouwsector moesten omgaan met een academische peerreviewronde. Het toonde mij alvast hoe snel we een vertrouwd proces doodnormaal vinden, terwijl dit net heel bevreemdend kan lijken voor anderen. Maar uiteindelijk is die diversiteit de kracht van het boek. We hebben verschillende stemmen en actoren uit het maatschappelijk debat bij elkaar gebracht in één boek. Ik ben alleszins enorm trots dat we samen dit boek hebben kunnen schrijven.

Wat wil je dat de lezers van je boek onthouden?
De uitdagingen voor onze landbouw mogen dan misschien wel zeer uitdagend zijn, we hebben voldoende kennis en constructieve voorstellen om een duurzaam en sociaal rechtvaardig landbouwbeleid uit te stippelen. 

Jouw boek is in open access gepubliceerd dankzij de steun van het KU Leuven Fonds voor Fair Open Access. Hoe verliep het open access publicatieproces? Wat maakt open access zo aantrekkelijk voor jou / voor jouw boek? Is het je tot nu toe opgevallen dat je boek een breder publiek bereikt?
Het was voor mij een voorwaarde dat dit boek open access zou zijn. Het is een publieksboek dat wetenschappelijke kennis en ervaringen uit het veld naar het brede publiek en beleidsmakers moet brengen. Om zoveel mogelijk mensen te bereiken, opteerde ik daarom voor open access. Ik ben de KU Leuven en Denktank Minerva in ieder geval enorm dankbaar dat ze dit mogelijk hebben gemaakt.

Heb je plannen voor een volgende publicatie? Waar zal die over gaan? Overweeg je om het boek in open access te publiceren?
Voorlopig niet. Als academica publiceer ik uiteraard regelmatig artikels of meer toegankelijk stukken, maar een nieuw boek staat nog niet meteen op mijn to-dolijst. Ik ga nu even genieten van het feit dat dit boek er is!


Herbekijk het debat ‘Tot de bodem. De toekomst van landbouw in Vlaanderen’, maandag 30 januari 2023, Leuven >

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The KU Leuven Fund for Open Access: a succesful collaboration for open access book publishing!

KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access

In order to make Open Access publishing accessible and affordable to as many researchers as possible, KU Leuven established the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access in January 2018. Not only does the Fund provide financial support for community-owned infrastructures, consortia and advocacy organisations, it also grants funding for books published in immediate and fair Open Access by Leuven University Press. Since 2018 Leuven University Press has published over 30 titles with support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access.

This university-funded initiative is a unique non-profit model and makes a substantial contribution in making Gold Open Access publishing a reality. The Fund is committed to support a cost-effective and sustainable implementation of Open Access and to put authors back in charge. 

How does the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access work? Regardless of their affiliation, authors can apply for financial support by submitting a manuscript to Leuven University Press. Peer review is standard procedure. Only when the scientific quality and merits of the manuscript have been positively evaluated will the book be published in full Open Access with Leuven University Press. The Open Acces book is made freely available on various platforms and Leuven University Press simultaneously also offers a print version for sale at a reasonable price. Instead of a traditional author-publisher contract, in which the authors cede their rights to the publisher, Leuven University Press offers, in accordance with OA requirements, a Creative Commons licence agreement in which the authors retain the copyright.

In three years time the Fund has proven its viability. Since its foundation, Leuven University Press has published more than 30 titles in Open Access with support from the Fund. This is up to 30% of the total number of titles Leuven University Press publishes annually. About 40% of the applications are submitted by authors who are not affiliated with the KU Leuven. Especially for these external authors, the Fund is an important step towards an Open Access book, as the financial commitment expressed by KU Leuven can greatly help them to obtain additional funding from their own institution.


Veerle De Laet

“Leuven University Press embraces the movement towards Open Access for the full 100%. Being able to share scientific insights with readers worldwide and giving them access to knowledge, unhindered by financial thresholds, is the pinnacle of scientific publishing. Leuven University Press is proud of this growing collection of titles – across all disciplines – available in Open Access. We are most grateful to KU Leuven for structurally supporting this future-oriented path in the Leuven University Press publishing policy“, explains Veerle De Laet, director of Leuven University Press.

Koen Debackere

Koenraad Debackere, former Managing Director of KU Leuven also underlines the importance of the right models for Open Access: “Open Access will offer a boost to scholarly communication and thereby scientific progress. However, in order for Open Access to thrive we need to have the right organisational models in place. Those are developing and Leuven University Press is definitely contributing to this evolution. The old world of traditional academic publishing and the new world of Open Access will eventually amalgamate into a transformative business model where market and community meet.”

Demmy Verbeke

“Mission-driven academic presses such as Leuven University Press are treasured as professional partners in Open Access publishing”, confirms Demmy Verbeke of KU Leuven Libraries, “Open Access publications can help reduce pressure on the budgets of scholarly institutions and their libraries, which has been a growing problem for decades. This will only happen if Open Access publishers are focused on scholarly values rather than on profit margins, working in a cost-effective rather than profit-driven manner.”


Studies have shown that Open Access books enjoy greater visibility, have a wider international reach and are used more frequently. The readership data of the Open Access books supported by the Fund confirm these findings. 


Martin Kohlrausch

Martin Kohlrausch’s monograph ‘Brokers of Modernity’ was the first Open Access book published with the support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. Since its publication in March 2019 it has been downloaded and viewed more than 15.000 times. “I was hoping for a quick ‘absorption’ of the book. Judging from the very high download numbers my expectations have been outmatched.”, states Kohlrausch.

Leen d'Haenens

Also Leen d’Haenens, editor of ‘Images of Immigrants and Refugees in Western Europe’ was surprised by the wide readership. “It even put us in second place of a top 10 of e-books selected by the Brookings Library in Washington to be shared in their wide network, and we saw that the book has already been downloaded a lot.”, thus d’Haenens.


KU Leuven and Leuven University Press are confident that the Fund will attract more and more authors and that this unique model is a good example of a successful collaboration for open access publishing.

More details about the Fund can be found here > 

University Press Week

#Keep UP! the 2021 University Press Week theme, celebrates how university presses have evolved over the past decade. #UPWeek

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What’s in a number? A closer look at Open Access readership data

Benjamin Davies Unsplash

In order to boost the publication of Open Access books, KU Leuven Libraries reserved a substantial part of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access, established in 2018, to help finance Open Access books published by Leuven University Press.

Since its launch in 2018, nine monographs have been published in Open Access thanks to the financial support of the Fund, with another 29 subsidy applications approved. 

We are happy to see that the Fair OA Book Fund is a great success, not only in the amount of books, but also in terms of the reach of these books which is demonstrated by the readership data that we now share online for each OA book published with the support of the Fund.

Read more in the two-part series on Open Access Readership Data:

Laura Mesotten, “What’s in a number? A closer look at Open Access readership data, The Digital Humanities Commons, 04/09/2020
Part One,
Part Two,

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Knowledge Unlatched | Six titles have now been unlatched

Knowledge Unlatched

In 2018 Leuven University Press participated in the fifth pledging round of Knowledge Unlatched (KU). Six titles of the press have been selected for unlatching and we are very pleased to announce that these titles have now been made available free of charge: 

  • Essays on Plato’s Epistemology 
  • Modern Islamic Thinking and Activism. Dynamics in the West and in the Middle East
  • New Multicultural Identities in Europe. Religion and Ethnicity in Secular Societies
  • Gender and Christianity in Modern Europe. Beyond the Feminization Thesis
  • Virtues for the People. Aspects of Plutarchan Ethics
  • A Small Nation in the Turmoil of the Second World War. Money, Finance and Occupation (Belgium, its Enemies, its friends, 1939-1945)

All KU titles are discoverable in OAPEN’s Directory of Open Access Books, HathiTrust’s Digital Library and through library discovery tools that include: EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon, and Ex Libris. Books are also listed in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB). Leuven University Press also ensures the listing of these titles on JSTOR. Although the ebook is now freely available, the print editions will remain simultaneously available for sale.

Please, take a look at our website, and scroll through our free ebook collection.