Institut de Recherches Historiques du Septentrion


Piloté par : Jonas Campion (ATER, U. Lille-SHS)

Partenaires :

  • Dr. Catherine Denys (Pr., U. Lille-SHS)
  • Dr. Xavier Rousseaux (Pr., FNRS/UCL)
  • Dr. Toon Vrints (Pr., UGent)

This proposal aims to reconduct and strengthen a network initiated thanks to the support of the first call
UCLouvain/U. Lille and UGent in 2016-2017. Our scientific goals stay similar (see below): we want to highlight specific methodological challenges of studying police and security matters in a socio-historical perspective. Further, we must notice that the specific and new goals for this year are:

1/. to ensure the future of the collaboration initiated within the first call
Consequently, we want to organize specific networks meetings dedicated to the mobilizing of complementary and external fundings (for example COST action), and to the enlargement of the networks (identifying new partners). It seems important to develop, organize and strengthen the MENEPOLHIS network on a broader geographical scale (in Belgian and French Universities but also with other international colleagues) and to open to other scientific disciplines (from history to e.a. sociology, criminology, political sciences).
Specific brain-storming and writing sessions are necessary to set up this goal.

2/. to prepare a peer-reviewed scientific publication as first achievement of a cooperation of two years.

• a. Objectives
Since the terror attacks in Paris and Brussel (2015-2016), police and security issues are once again at the heart of public concerns, deepening existing debates on the rise of insecurity (feelings) and the place of violence in contemporary societies. Current debates about the crisis in transnational policing and police legitimacy in general stress the need of research and education initiatives in this field. Security issues urgently need to be addressed by scholars out of the field of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The historical approach and the concept of path dependency is particularly relevant for explaining these matters in terms of continuities and shifts in a long term perspective. This implies not only a confrontation of Past and Present, but also of different political situations (crisis, wars, occupations, integration) and their impact on Cultures of Policing. To do that, the aim of this project is to offer the opportunity to organize a cross-border scientific network around the history of police and security cultures in North West Europe (more precisely in the Northern France and Belgium, seen as well as a disrupting and as a connected space) from the Ancien Régime to the current history. As previously pointed out by the British historian Robert Cobb in the term the “Route du Nord”, the French-Belgian border is a particularly interesting place to study, due to its lack of geographic ruptures, a high density of population, shared urban cultures, historical changes in the border during some historical periods, such as the French Revolution and Napolonic Empire, the World Wars, and, more recently, the European integration, long-term exchange (circulations, smuggling, cultures), and specific policing issues (cultural proximity in policing).
The network's members try to bring a socio-historical perspective on current social regulation problems and stakes (as building security policies and practices; controlling specific areas as borders; dealing with "at risks" social groups; understanding the issue of security in urban areas or understanding social interactions between the police and population). If each partner has already developed specific expertise on social regulations, police history or history of security policies (in terms of geographical area, institutions or chronology studied), the three partners have common scientific backgrounds an perspectives about police and security history: a socio-historical approach focused on practices and on actors. Therefore, they’re complementary.

1/. In 2017-2018, some specific methodological topics will still be investigated in order to give efficient tools about police history to young/ senior researchers and students. After having examinated the questions of oral history; police figures & statistics; space policing & policing space in 2016-2017, it seems interesting to examine following methodological questions: Images & representations of security/mobilizing images for security (visual studies); Security systems? (new actors of policing: army, private companies); Police & its audience (“usual suspects”). We’ll organize two research seminars during the year.
We’ll also pay attention to the publication of research results from 2016: we’ve planned to write a collective text on methodological stakes related to studying police in a socio-historical perspective and at the same time, a virtual methodological presentation of questions, sources, methods for a socio-historical approach of securitization, supported by various digital websites (Criminocorpus, Digithemis).

2/. Our secondary goal is to develop and strengthen a cross-border and international cooperation on police history.

3/. Our third goal is to develop an initiative where education and research are linked. We want to mobilize both senior and junior researchers within the network. But we also want to mobilize students of the three Universities, working during their MA-programs and/or Ph.D. thesis on security and police history. On a medium term, we shall investigate possibility to strengthen contacts between students and university programs (organisation of common lecture; organisation of seminars working on a same subject in 2 or 3 universities, Erasmus for students and teachers, Invited Professors…).

b. Previous cooperation
Before MENEPOLHIS initiative, the three partners have a tradition of bilateral cooperation but they've never worked together in the context of a single project. This network is thus an opportunity to reinforce and to stimulate sustainable cooperation.
Some partners have already be involved in international research projects as IAP 5.01 Justice and Society (Belspo, 2007-2012, UCL/UGent and Lille); IAP 6.22 Justice and Population (Belspo 2012-2017/ UCL and UGent); ANR Cirsap and Syspoe (2006-2016/ Lille and UCL), Brain TIC Belgium (Belspo, UGent/UCL). They are all participating in networks as Europe Social Science History Conference (ESSHC) or International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice (IAHCCJ) or the Groupe Européen de recherches sur les normativités (
The previous cooperations took also the form of joint-publications (books, journals, papers); PhD Doctoral Guidance committees (UGent/UCL; UCL/Lille SHS; Lille SHS/UGent), organisation and participation in scientific events and scientific mobility (resarchers IN/OUT, for PhD Student or Postdoc; career mobility between the 3 institutions). Some specific cooperations were also organized during the first year of the network (Cours conference au Collège Belgique; co-publications…).