BRIT XIV (4-7/11/2014)

BRIT XIV:The border, a source of innovation/La frontière, source d’innovation.


BRIT (Border Regions in Transition ) is an international network of researchers and practitioners dealing with issues on borders. About every other year, this network carries out international conferences on university sites established on both sides of a border. The first BRIT symposium was held in 1994 on the German-Polish border. In 2012, for the first time , BRIT was hosted in Asia , in Japan and South Korea. In 2014 , 20 years after the first international conference, BRIT XIV will be held on the Franco- Belgian border.

The objective of this conference is, with a transdisciplinary approach (geography, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, history), to contribute to a collective reflection on innovations related to border and cross-border dynamics. BRIT XIV “the border – a source of innovation” aims to demonstrate how the border, both as a concept and as an object resulting from the implementation of regional strategies can be understood, in all its forms, as a source of innovation within the different societies.

At BRIT XIV, the Transregional Research Team from the University of Leuven will organize a session on Borderlands as laboratories for religious and political change in the early modern era.


Exile encounters in borderlands. Transregional Catholicism in the Archdiocese of Cambrai (1559-1659).

Prof. dr. Violet Soen (KU Leuven)

Prof. dr. Johan Verberckmoes (KU Leuven)

The Archdiocese of Cambrai is a highly interesting test case for the field of borderland studies and migration studies alike: since its erection in 1559 at the southern border of the Habsburg Low Countries, it hosted Catholic refugees from different regions, such as the British Isles, Ireland, France and eventually the Dutch Republic. Exactly a century later, it disintegrated politically in the aftermath of the Peace of the Pyrenees in 1659. The question is how this migration affected the host society, and transformed the religious conditions in these borderlands. In fact, religious exile created an exceptional situation in which refugees along with locals sought to reconfigure Catholicism after the rise of Protestantism. It is thus important to analyse how among Catholics in the borderlands of Cambrai, ‘the making of’ a transregional religion took place.

Print culture in borderlands. Transregional collaboration in the Archdiocese of Cambrai (1559-1659).

Drs. Alexander Soetaert

Curiously, during the crucial century of civil, religious and territorial war between 1559 and 1659, the Cambrai Archdiocese developed into a multilingual printing centre for Catholicism, even if the printing presses were introduced rather late compared to printing centres such as Antwerp and Lyon. The mechanisms behind the sixteenth-century multilingual print culture in Cambrai show us how borderlands could become laboratories of religious innovation in the early modern times. Catholic print culture in Cambrai was not only impressive in terms of numbers, but also because of its great variety in social and regional backgrounds of patrons, printers, booksellers, authors, translators and censors. Hence, a social topography of the Catholic print production will determine how immigrants and locals, besides clergy and lay people, interacted to forge Catholicism. The working hypothesis here is that within the Catholic printing business different social and regional backgrounds could successfully be overcome at certain instances.

New borders, new strategies? Aspects of border management during and after the Eighty Year’s War (ca. 1580-1660).

Drs. Bram De Ridder (KU Leuven/FWO)

Between the start of the Dutch Revolt and the conclusion of the Peace of Munster in 1648, the former Seventeen Provinces of the Habsburg Low Countries were engaged in a process of violent separation. The result of this process is the well-known split between the Dutch Republic and the remaining Habsburg Netherlands. However, with the gradual formation of two new and distinct states an equally new border was formatted. This border was nevertheless not a predetermined fact, nor a neat and uncontested division. In practice, officials and subjects from both states engaged with the military frontier, the temporary boundaries of the Twelve Years’ Truce and the limits set in 1648 through the articulation of different border management strategies. These included measures of prevention, control and circumvention as well as occasions of debate, conflict and controversy. Focusing on the political and juridical strategies applied, this paper seeks to elaborate how border management was as much a manifestation as a cause of border formation in the Early Modern Low Countries.


4-7 October 2014, Arras, Mons, Lille

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