Orakelen over de heimelijkheid: seksualiteit en historiografie in Belgisch perspectiefOrakelen over de heimelijkheid: seksualiteit en historiografie in Belgisch perspectief
Faculty of Arts. History
Power in History - Centre for Political History
Belgisch tijdschrift voor nieuwste geschiedenis / Jan Dhondt Stichting. - Gent, 1969, currens
38(2008), p. 273-296
University of Antwerp
The history of sexuality in Belgium has only recently begun to move from a phenomenon in the margins of historiography towards the centre of several social, cultural and political studies of the past. This growing interest is not a coherent institutional effort, but rather a diverse collection of methodological and theoretical approaches. To introduce a special issue on sexuality, which reflects this diversity, we have not attempted to comprehensively map the complexity of a national (proto-)historiography of sexuality. This short essay looks back on three important authors whose work preceded and still continues to influence the now emerging body of research on sexual ideas and practices in Belgium's shifting social constellations. It is not so much concerned with identifying, celebrating and/or criticising the work of the so-called 'founding fathers' than with outlining pervasive beliefs regarding the emergence of a modern sexual regime. We have used Chris Vandenbroeke's work on natality, Jos van Ussel's writings on 'the sexual problem', and Michel Foucault's revision of the 'repressive hypothesis' to illustrate how intellectuals from very different: perspectives have sought to explain sexuality as a key element in the rise of a unique 'West'. Despite heated debate and clear divides about the use of sources, it seems that this preoccupation remains a powerful leitmotiv. Borrowing from postcolonial scholarship, we argue, could help to reformulate these issues and stimulate an awareness about the use of obstinate topoi. We hope that such considerations, along with the heterogeneous make-up of this volume, can contribute to the development of a more self-conscious, theorised, comparative and methodologically innovative historiography of sexualities in Belgium.