Congomania in Academia. Recent Historical Research on the Belgian Colonial Past


  • Idesbald Goddeeris
  • S.E. Kiangu





The Congo has recently been the subject of much academic research. This article discusses the major trends and developments. It primarily focuses on the Congo crisis of 1960, which was commemorated in 2010 and has been inquired into by many historians, including American, British and Russian ones. A comparison of their conclusions reveals that Flanders has largely come to terms with its colonial past, but that the French-speaking community has a more problematic memory. Belgian academia, by contrast, has left the old controversies about Leopold II and Lumumba behind and embarked on the path of new imperial history. It approaches the Congolese past from new angles and with new paradigms, such as reciprocity, science, exhibition, representation, etc. Congolese academia suffers from the economic problems of the country, but has managed to produce a number of studies, focusing mainly on regions, religion, and resistance. Strikingly, Congolese historians have little criticism of the colonial era.


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Author Biographies

  • Idesbald Goddeeris

    Idesbald Goddeeris (1972) is Associate Professor of History at the K.U.Leuven. He mainly works on migration history and Cold War history, and teaches courses on colonial history and Eastern European history. He has recently published, inter alia, Revoluties onder historici. Gesprekken over internationalisering, democratisering en andere veranderingen in de academische wereld (Tielt 2011); with Roeland Hermans, Vlaamse migranten in Wallonië 1850-2000 (Tielt 2011) and Solidarity with Solidarity: Western European Trade Unions and the Polish Crisis, 1980-1982 (Lanham etc. 2010). Email:

  • S.E. Kiangu

    Sindani E. Kiangu (1956) is Professor of History at the UNIKIN (Université de Kinshasa). He mainly works on identities, memory and slavery, and teaches courses on African History. He has recently published Le Kwilu à l’épreuve du pluralisme identitaire. 1948-1968 (Paris 2009). Email:;






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How to Cite

Congomania in Academia. Recent Historical Research on the Belgian Colonial Past. (2011). BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 126(4), 54-74.