CORE SPOTLIGHT: Scientific spotlight on Luxembourg’s democratisation

 

The University of Luxembourg’s interdisciplinary project Partizip 2 examines 20th-century social cohesion processes.

It can’t harm to broaden your horizon. However, in order to gain a reasonably objective view of what’s happening in your own backyard, you need to look beyond your neighbours. So, for instance, if you’d like to know how well certain sections of the population were (or have) integrated into Luxembourg society, then you need to do more than just compare the situation in your own country with that in Belgium, France or Germany.

Placing Luxembourg’s history in a European context

“In order to understand Luxembourg’s history, you have to place it in a regional and European context,” says social philosopher Thorsten Fuchshuber, who is involved in Partizip 2, an interdisciplinary project of the University of Luxembourg that examines 20th-century social cohesion processes. “That’s the only way to find out what is illustrative of the region or specific to Luxembourg,” he says.

Luxembourg’s democratisation process during the 20th century is the focus of the project sponsored by an FNR CORE grant. The previous project, Partizip 1, dealt with the process in the early years of the 20th century.

Focus on how society was shaped by external influences

Partizip 2 is focusing on the period between the First World War and the 1980s, and in particular on the role certain groups of people (such as workers, migrants, religious minorities and women) played in democratisation and the extent to which society was shaped by these groups and by external influences.

“Every democratic society follows the fundamental principles of participation,” states Renée Wagener, another scientist also involved in the project. “In practice, however, this participation hadn’t been working for a long time,” she adds. She cites equal rights for women as an example. “In Luxembourg, women enjoyed the same rights as men comparatively early,” she says, “but, in practice, their emancipation didn’t materialise. It wasn’t until the 1970s that married women were on a par with men.”

Thorsten Fuchshuber further explains that such authoritarian tendencies can be found throughout Europe. “We want to find out what is specific to Luxembourg or what corresponds to a broader general tendency throughout society. Anti-Semitism, for instance, was prevalent in Luxembourg before and during the Second World War,” he confirms. “Only here, it didn’t lead to extermination as in Germany.”

Exploring the effect of nationality on society’s existence

“A question that should be asked in this context is whether nationality is the decisive factor in a society’s existence,” ponders Thorsten. “For instance, a Jew living in Luxembourg can feel part of Luxembourg society but, at the same time, still relate to Judaism. Another question concerns the extent to which Jews, and indeed other ethnic groups, can claim they were excluded from 20th-century society,” he explains.

One of the project’s main challenges is to correctly classify the specific developments in society. This is a complex task due to the various influences which are exerted from all sides on a small country such as Luxembourg and which are so pronounced in their different ways. For instance, the process of creating the Luxembourg nation was repeatedly jeopardised, delayed or accelerated from the outset.

This occurred due to the racial and political propaganda spread by the National Socialists in the 1930s, during which a large proportion of the Luxembourg population was regarded as part of the German ethnic community, or to the subsequent occupation during the Second World War.

More than 80 WWII eyewitnesses interviewed

Loretta Walz’s contribution to the Partizip 2 project deals with the latter. The film-maker and Adolf Grimme Prize holder from Düsseldorf interviewed more than 80 eyewitnesses from Luxembourg and the Greater Region. She questioned people about their experiences and recollections of forced recruitment, resistance to the National Socialists, the threat of resettlement and everyday life during the occupation and the war. Afterwards, she asked how they managed to cope with these experiences in Luxembourg society following the war.

The film material gleaned from her interviews is suitable for political education in schools and for scientific purposes. Furthermore, it enriches the collective memory of a society in which the number of witnesses from this time is constantly dwindling.

This case study was originally featured in the FNR 2014 Annual Report

RELATED PROGRAMMES

RELATED HIGHLIGHTS

Heading towards a new kind of electronics

Rarely has a scientific discovery led to a Nobel Prize as quickly as the first production of graphene. The British researchers who managed to make it in 2004 were honoured with the Nobel Prize in Physics only six years later. What is particular about this material, which consists of pure carbon, is its two-dimensional structure: the atoms in this material are arranged in a single, extremely flat layer. Electrons can only move within this 2D plane, and always feel the influence of their constraint. This leads to unusual properties that are not found in ordinary, three-dimensional crystals.

Corpornation: Forging a modern society

Sparked by a collection of over 2,000 images, two projects led by Prof Karin Priem from the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) reflect on the industrial heritage and societal impact of major Luxembourg-based steel and iron producing company ARBED, examining the social and educational initiatives of the company and how it helped shape Luxembourg’s national and international identity in a time of industrialisation.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Damien Brevers

Postdoc Damien Brevers has a passion for studying self-control abilities in humans. Having spent time in Belgium and the US building expertise in areas including clinical psychology, sport psychology and brain imaging, the Belgian national has just joined the University of Luxembourg and embarked on a project looking at gambling addiction in the age of online betting.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Thomas Elliot

When Thomas Elliot (Tom) cycled from Indonesia to London, he witnessed many people living in hardship. Motivated to research how consumption affects social and environmental justice in a bid to help reduce the hardship witnessed, the New Zealand national applied for an open PhD position at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), where he now works on a project that fuses urban metabolism and ecosystem services.

Shedding light on how colon cancer develops and progresses

Researchers at the University of Luxembourg have discovered a molecular mechanism that is responsible for the spread of cancer cells in the body and the development of metastases in patients with colon cancer. Their findings, published in ‘Cancer Research’, could help to develop treatments that inhibit tumor growth.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: László Sándor

For László Sándor research is the ultimate war against ‘fake news’. After completing his PhD in Economics at Harvard, the Hungarian-American national chose a Postdoc position at the Luxembourg School of Finance at the University of Luxembourg, where his work includes big data projects, field experiments in household finance and applied microeconomics.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Konstantinos Papadopoulos

During his computer science studies, Konstantinos Papadopoulos realised how many unexplored areas there are in the field and his desire for becoming a researcher was born. Now in the 2nd year of his PhD at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, the Greek national works on developing innovative new approaches to security surveillance.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Xianqing Mao

Xianqing Mao comes from a family of professors and doctors and thus has always had a natural interest in science. The Chinese national completed a medical degree, but felt she still had unanswered questions, so she decided to go abroad and took a leap into biomedical research. After stays in France, the UK, the United States and Belgium, Xianqing is now transitioning from junior to senior researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, where she has already been involved in several projects investigating cancer progression.

Twisted: CORE project leads to innovative interdisciplinary conference

University of Luxembourg physicist and ERC grantee Prof Dr Jan Lagerwall and former University of Luxembourg Prof Dr Tanja Schilling organised the interdisciplinary conference ‘Twisted’, which brought together chemists, chemical engineers, physicists and biologists to discuss various aspects of nanotechnology, such as possible future applications of cellulose nanorods. The conference was a part of Lagerwall’s and Schilling’s FNR CORE project MISONANCE.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies for analytics purposes. Find out more in our Privacy Statement