B. van Oostveldt
- 'Vlecht den Gentschen zoon een duurzame eerekroon!’ De inhuldiging van Lieven Bauwens’ standbeeld en de beeldconstructie van een vaderlijke arbeidersvriend
- Brood & rozen: tijdschrift voor de geschiedenis van sociale bewegingen
- Volume | Issue number
- 2011 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
This contribution focuses on the 19th century construction of the image of the Ghent textile manufacturer Lieven Bauwens. Many decades after his death he was still hailed by various media as a paternal working-class friend. This construction reached its peak in 1885, when several Ghent industrialists and liberal politicians pushed for a statue of Bauwens. It was unveiled amid much pomp and ceremony. It was not only meant to make clear how he had made Ghent into ‘the Manchester of the continent’. More than anything else it had to demonstrate how he had contributed to general prosperity in Ghent, by showing courage and entrepreneurial spirit. Ghent industrialists and liberal politicians wanted to counter the emerging socialist movement, which was gaining growing support of Ghent textile workers in particular. But the socialists responded adequately. They never questioned the image of Bauwens as a paternal working-class friend, but fervently rejected the claim that he bore resemblance to the contemporary employers. The 19th century construction of the image of Bauwens reveals how historical figures feature in different ideological, social and political discourses. Bauwens was endlessly portrayed as a result of which he faded into insignificance. Today his rusty statue is just an ornament in a lovely flower bed.
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