Practices of Displacement: Forced Migration of Mixed-Race Children from Colonial Ruanda-Urundi to Belgium

In: Journal of Migration History
Sarah Heynssens University of Antwerp,

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During colonial times, the Belgian metropolitan government removed mixed-race children from their indigenous African families and placed them in specialised institutions. On the eve of independence about 300 of these children were ‘evacuated’ to Belgium. This article elaborates on Belgian policy towards mixed-race children during the colonial era and on the forced displacement of mixed-race children from the Ruanda-Urundi region upon independence. It reflects on the ways in which indigenous parents reacted to and protested against the displacement of their children and investigates how the colonial government tried to neutralise objections. The article confronts the factual practices of displacement with the perceptions of the various actors involved, which allows discerning notions about race, citizenship, motherhood and child rearing.

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