BELGIUM - The thirty glorious years after the Second World War, that manic period of reconstruction and economic boom, have been decisive for the Belgium of today. The whole country was turned upside down. New jobs, habits and ideas replaced the old ones. At the end of those triumphant decades, Belgians were richer, freer and better educated than ever before.
This was also the time of migrant labour. Hundreds of thousands of people, originating from the belt of countries around the Mediterranean, moved to our country to help shape the new Belgium. The impact they had in economic, demographic, cultural and political terms is immense. In this first part of his great history of Belgium as a migration country, Tom Naegels tells the story of this migration in all its aspects. It starts with the liberation in 1944 and ends with the election in 1978 of the first representative of the new Vlaams Blok party.
European unification, the Cold War, decolonisation and the power struggle in the Middle East form the geopolitical backdrop against which this story is set. The perspective of the Belgian elite alternates with that of the Italian, Moroccan and Turkish elite. But the story also looks at the tensions in the Flemish-nationalist movement, at Wallonia's fear of political and economic marginalisation, at the difficulties faced by schools and at the diplomatic wrangling over the foundation of the Great Mosque. And it juxtaposes the experiences of the newcomers with those of the native Belgians.
This book paints a rich and multifaceted picture of 'Belgium in the world', providing the context and insights needed to understand the country today.
need resources for your own investigative story?
Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.
support independent cross-border investigative journalism
We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.