Out of the Past

Researcher CIMS

Elke Mahieu

Supervisor CIMS

Stijn Joye

Funded by

Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds (BOF) - 2017-2021


A multi-methodological research project on the role and representation of the colonial past in contemporary news coverage: Africa on Belgium and vice versa.

While some scholars claim that in recent years, debates on racism, multiculturalism and post-coloniality are increasingly present in the media, others have particularly criticized Belgium for its colonial memory loss or for not conducting a post-colonial debate as in its neighbouring countries.​This research project is interested in the colonial history of Europe in the African countries and its ongoing aftermath. In particular, we focus on ex-colonizer Belgium and its former African colonies the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to trace if and how a post-colonial debate and 'living' memory is present in contemporary media, with a focus on printed press.

This project wants to critically investigate if and how colonial constructions and discourses are present in contemporary representations of former colonies (Congo, Rwanda and Burundi) in Belgian news reporting and vice versa. By adopting an in-depth textual, production and audience reception analysis, we want to critically investigate how post-colonial developments are molding everyday news coverage of the 'colonial other' and how these ideas are represented in contemporary Belgian as well as in Congolese, Rwandan and Burundi media. We work in a reciprocal way, by including Western as well as African printed media, to acknowledge their historical and contemporary bond. This project will contribute to the broad field of post-colonial studies, studies on international news coverage and journalistic practices as well as memory studies.​