News & Stories
December 9, 2021

History Professor Consults on Belgium Colonialism

The murder of George Floyd in 2020 reverberated globally, leading to introspection, dialogue, and a reexamination of the past in numerous countries. In Belgium, a colonial power in the Congo from the late 1800s until 1960, the Federal Parliament established a special “Congo commission” to reexamine Belgium's colonial past and its present-day legacies. The commission’s work included the canvassing of expert opinion, which led them to reach out to Dr. Matthew G. Stanard, professor of history at Berry College.

Dr. Stanard co-edited “Decolonizing Europe? Popular Responses to the End of Empire” (2020), which explores cultural legacies of imperialism across twelve case studies and nine European countries, including Belgium. Stanard is also author of “The Leopard, the Lion, and the Cock: Colonial Memories and Monuments in Belgium” (2019), which examines the ways in which Belgian culture and society continued to be shaped by the colonial experience even after Congo’s independence in 1960.

Besides answering questions from the parliamentary inquiry, Dr. Stanard met closer to home in October 2021 with a group convened by the Belgian Consul General in Atlanta to discuss legacies of colonialism and the challenges of racism in the US and Belgium. He also was interviewed by a Belgian interuniversity working group on academic initiatives on decolonization at the university level, and was on hand in Brussels for the press conference announcing the working group’s report while in the country in October for sabbatical research.

In summer 2022 Dr. Stanard will bring his knowledge of modern European history to bear on a new short-term international program he has designed that will take a group of Berry students to Belgium, Poland, and Germany.

The author of many essays and books on modern European history and overseas empire, Dr. Stanard has also served as an expert reviewer for the European Science Foundation, the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen, and the British Academy, among others.

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