Cover of The Everyday Nationalism of Workers by Maarten Van Ginderachter
The Everyday Nationalism of Workers
A Social History of Modern Belgium
Maarten Van Ginderachter

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July 2019
288 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9781503609051
Paper ISBN: 9781503609693

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In this book, Maarten Van Ginderachter upends assumptions about how European nationalism is lived and experienced by ordinary people—and the bottom-up impact these "everyday" expressions of nationalism exert on institutionalized nationalism writ large. Drawing on sources from the major urban and working-class centers of Belgium, Van Ginderachter uncovers the everyday nationalism of the rank-and-file of the socialist Belgian Workers Party between 1880 and World War I, a period in which Europe experienced the concurrent rise of nationalism and socialism as mass movements. Analyzing sources from—not just about—ordinary workers, Van Ginderachter reveals the limits of nation-building from above and the potential of agency from below. With a rich and diverse base of sources (including workers' "propadanda pence" ads that bear a strong resemblance to contemporary tweets), the book covers a variety of experiences of, and responses to, nationhood – showing all the complexity of socialist workers' ambivalent attitudes towards and engagement with nationhood, patriotism, ethnicity and language. By comparing the Belgian case with the rise of nationalism across Europe, Van Ginderachter sheds new light on how multilingual societies fared in the age of mass politics and ethnic nationalism.

About the author

Maarten Van Ginderachter is Associate Professor in History at Antwerp University. He is the co-editor of Nationhood from Below: Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century (2012).