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History by parliamentary vote: science, ethics and politics in the Lumumba Commission

Berber Bevernage UGent (2011) HISTORY COMPASS. 9(4). p.300-311
abstract
Since the end of the Cold War an increasing number of countries have set up government-appointed ‘historical commissions’, often staffed or assisted by historians, to settle disputes about the past. This article analyzes the phenomenon of ‘commissioned history’ by focusing on the case of the Belgian parliamentary commission of inquiry which was active between 2000 and 2002 and had to investigate Belgium’s responsibility in the murder of the Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961. It especially addresses the questions how the ‘Lumumba commission’ attempted to create a hegemonic memory around the (post)colonial past and how history, politics, and ethics were combined in this attempt. Despite official assertions about a strict division of labour between experts and politicians and about the ‘absolute independence and freedom’ granted to the former, the article argues that a problematic ‘osmosis’ of history and politics took place. However, it is argued that this osmosis did not result from partisanship on the side of the experts, nor from an active interference by the politicians, but from a (probably unconscious) attitude that the experts developed in which they appropriated a part of the meta-political values and the habitus of their law-making employers.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Commissioned history, Lumumba, historical commissions
journal title
HISTORY COMPASS
History Compass
volume
9
issue
4
pages
300 - 311
ISSN
1478-0542
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A2
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
VABB id
c:vabb:322355
VABB type
VABB-1
id
1165421
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1165421
date created
2011-02-22 20:15:53
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:39:27
@article{1165421,
  abstract     = {Since the end of the Cold War an increasing number of countries have set up government-appointed {\textquoteleft}historical commissions{\textquoteright}, often staffed or assisted by historians, to settle disputes about the past. This article analyzes the phenomenon of {\textquoteleft}commissioned history{\textquoteright} by focusing on the case of the Belgian parliamentary commission of inquiry which was active between 2000 and 2002 and had to investigate Belgium{\textquoteright}s responsibility in the murder of the Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961. It especially addresses the questions how the {\textquoteleft}Lumumba commission{\textquoteright} attempted to create a hegemonic memory around the (post)colonial past and how history, politics, and ethics were combined in this attempt. Despite of\unmatched{fb01}cial assertions about a strict division of labour between experts and politicians and about the {\textquoteleft}absolute independence and freedom{\textquoteright} granted to the former, the article argues that a problematic {\textquoteleft}osmosis{\textquoteright} of history and politics took place. However, it is argued that this osmosis did not result from partisanship on the side of the experts, nor from an active interference by the politicians, but from a (probably unconscious) attitude that the experts developed in which they appropriated a part of the meta-political values and the habitus of their law-making employers.},
  author       = {Bevernage, Berber},
  issn         = {1478-0542},
  journal      = {HISTORY COMPASS},
  keyword      = {Commissioned history,Lumumba,historical commissions},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {300--311},
  title        = {History by parliamentary vote: science, ethics and politics in the Lumumba Commission},
  volume       = {9},
  year         = {2011},
}

Chicago
Bevernage, Berber. 2011. “History by Parliamentary Vote: Science, Ethics and Politics in the Lumumba Commission.” History Compass 9 (4): 300–311.
APA
Bevernage, B. (2011). History by parliamentary vote: science, ethics and politics in the Lumumba Commission. HISTORY COMPASS, 9(4), 300–311.
Vancouver
1.
Bevernage B. History by parliamentary vote: science, ethics and politics in the Lumumba Commission. HISTORY COMPASS. 2011;9(4):300–11.
MLA
Bevernage, Berber. “History by Parliamentary Vote: Science, Ethics and Politics in the Lumumba Commission.” HISTORY COMPASS 9.4 (2011): 300–311. Print.