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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 3, Issue 2, Fall 2011

Evert Vandeweghe
Pages 122-159

Staging Urban History
Festivities and the Creation of Historical Townscapes in Belgium (1860-1958)

Parades were an intrinsic part of urban life in Belgium between the middle of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Scholars have used these festivities time and again to probe into nationalism and the growing political tensions of the time. However, much less attention has been paid to the relation between these parades and the townscape itself. This article tries to fill this gap by exploring how urban festivities can reveal the differing ways in which small-town populations coped with the dilemma of modernization versus preservation (or even creation) of a historical townscape. To this end the routes of the parades are examined, as well as the selective illumination of certain buildings and town quarters, the floats and temporary constructions used during these festivities.