2 PhD researchers: Agro-Food Policy in Belgium, 1918-1958 (KU Leuven)

RHN 95/2014 | Opportunity

Interfaculty Centre for Agrarian History (ICAG) and the research group Modernity & Society 1800-2000 (MoSa) at KU Leuven (Belgium)

Apply no later than: 21 September 2014

The Rethoric of Hunger and Plenty:
Agro-Food Policy in Belgium, 1918-1958

The research group MoSa (Modernity and Society 1800-2000) studies political and social processes of change that are associated with modernization. MoSa inquires the various ways in which people and societies experience and steer these changes in a Belgian, European and global perspective. Her key focuses are the history of mobility, identity and mobilization, policy and politics, churches and religion. ICAG (Interfaculty Center for Agrarian History) stimulates interdisciplinary research that throws a new light on historic and current mutations of agriculture, the rural landscape and the food chain.


From the 19th century on to beyond two disrupting world wars, worldwide agricultural production, trade in food, and agro-food policies changed dramatically. Perceptions of hunger and plenty, though, were usually more local than global, and the consequences of the global food problem, one of unbalanced production and supply, volatile prices, rapidly rising demand and upping quality standards, were the object of local policies.

Remarkably, agro-food policies in Europe have been studied intensely for the 19th century, when recurrent famines were overcome,and again for the years from the 1950s on, when the EECs agricultural policy took shape. However, the complex 'interim', roughly the interwar period and the first post-WWII decade, has often been overlooked.

This project aims at unraveling the agro-food policy of Belgium during these years: i.e. of a small, densely populated and industrialized country, with a declining farming population, and very vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the international food market. It seeks to assess the periods inspiring and formative function, and assumes that, between the mid-1920s and mid-1950s, 1) the political mindset in Belgium shifted from food nationalism to food internationalism, at the expense of a substantial number of her farmers, who stopped farming, and 2) the relationship between Belgium's agricultural policy (considering farmers) and food policy (considering consumers) evolved from opposition toward a strategic agro-food alliance.

The research will be based on Belgian sources (regarding the government, parliament, parties, pressure groups etc.) and archives of international institutions (Genève, Rome). Both doctoral students will study a specific period, with the 1930s as pivoting point. Both are expected to contribute to the dissemination of results via international conferences and publication


  • you hold a master degree in Modern History with good results
  • you have a strong interest in modern political and social history
  • you have a real interest in doing innovative historical research and willing to travel abroad for research and conferences
  • you are result-oriented, a team player and eager to obtain a PhD
  • you have a good command of Dutch, French and English


  • we offer a full time employment to TWO PhD researchers for one year and renewable till maximum 4 years after positive evaluation
  • in a pleasant and dynamic research team, frequent contacts with other researchers in and outside Belgium

The project is funded by FWO Flanders and by the Research Fund of the KULeuven; it is headed by prof. dr. Leen Van Molle and prof.  r. Y. Segers (both MoSa & ICAG)


  • please visit http://www.kuleuven.be/vacancies and apply online before 22 September 2014
  • selected candidates will be invited for an interview that will take place on Thursday 25 September 2014

for more information, contact prof. Leen Van Molle, leen.vanmolle@arts.kuleuven.be, tel.: +32.16.324977 or prof. Yves Segers, yves.segers@icag.kuleuven.be, tel. +32.16.323543

KU Leuven carries out an equal opportunity and diversity policy

You can apply for this job no later than September 21, 2014 via the online application tool.

Source: icts.kuleuven.be