Watching the migrants. Police and migration in Brussels, c. 1914.

Project Details


This project aims to investigate police practices of migration control in the city of Brussels during a period of intense urban growth, mobility and industrialization. The main goal is to analyse everyday policing and the relation between police and migrants, both domestic and international, between c. 1880 and 1914. By doing this, the project contributes to historical debates on police and policing, as well as those on migration control and urbanization during the transition to 'modern' industrial society. In this way, it will also provide insight into debates on police activities in present-day society. This research adopts a broader perspective than social sciences' usual focus on ethnic and religious differences in police-migrant relations. Drawing on a broad range of police archives, the analysis will be structured around three dimensions of police practices. The first is centred on places and studies police activity in the Belgian capital, and particularly places of
arrival, transit and residence of migrants, including train stations, lodging houses and hotels.
Secondly, I will investigate the interactions of the police with other regulatory actors, such as migrants, owners of lodging houses and national and regional authorities, in order to establish policemen's degree of agency. Lastly, the project will study the preoccupations of policemen patrolling the streets in order to establish if, how and which migrants were singled out for control more than others.
Short title or EU acronymOZR opvangmandaat
Effective start/end date1/10/1830/09/19


  • History