Inventing Luxembourg

Representations of the Past, Space and Language from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century


The grand duchy of Luxembourg was created after the Napoleonic Wars, but at the time there was no 'nation' that identified with the emergent state. This book analyses how politicians, scholars and artists have initiated and contributed to nation-building processes in Luxembourg since the nineteenth century, processes that – as this book argues – are still ongoing. The focus rests on three types of representations of nationhood: a shared past, a common homeland and a national language. History was written so as to justify the country's political independence. Territorial borders shifted meaning, constantly repositioning the national community. The local dialect – initially considered German variant – was gradually transformed into the 'national language', Luxembourgish.
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Biographical Note

Pit Péporté, PhD (2008) in History, University of Edinburgh, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Luxembourg. With a background in the medieval history of the Low Countries, he has also published in the fields of historiography and collective memory.

Sonja Kmec, PhD (2004) in History, University of Oxford, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Luxembourg. Her latest book is Across the Channel, Noblewomen in Seventeenth-Century France and England (Trier: Kliomedia, 2009).

Benoît Majerus, PhD (2004) in History, Free University of Brussels, is a postdoctoral researcher (FNRS) at that same university. He has published extensively on the German occupation of Belgium and Luxembourg in the two world wars and the history of psychiatry.

Michel Margue, PhD (1999) in History, Free University of Brussels, is Professor of History at the University of Luxembourg and currently also its Dean of the Faculty of Lettres, Humanities, Arts and Education. He has published extensively on medieval history.

Review Quotes

"Even without looking at the impact of the nationalising discourses it analyses, this book remains an important contribution to the wider field of nationalism studies. Indeed, it has already opened new venues for research on topics such as the development of national museums in Belgium and increased our awareness of how examining the nation-building process as a continuing development requires keeping one eye on the past and the other on the future." – Madalina Valeria Veres, in: European Review of History – Revue européenne d’histoire 19/3, p. 463-464
"Vor allem aber ist die konsequente Analyse der Konstruktion der luxemburgischen Nation auf den drei ausgewählten Untersuchungsebenen eine imponierende Leistung. Die historische Luxemburgforschung beteiligt sich seit zwei Jahrzehnten im Bereich der mittelalterlichen und der Städtegeschichte, in der Geschichte der ländlichen Gesellschaft und der europäischen Integration an den internationalen Forschungsdebatten. Mit Inventing Luxemburg gilt dies auch für die Erforschung von Nationsbildungen." – Norbert Franz, in: SEHEPUNKTE – Rezensionsjournal für die Geschichtswissenschaften 10/11 (2010)

Table of contents

List of Tables and Illustrations


Part I. Narrating the Past
Introduction: Making Sense, Producing Meaning: Time, Memory and Historical Narratives
1. The Master Narrative of Luxembourg’s History
2. The Dissemination, Reception and Public Use of the Master Narrative
3. Different Narratives?

Part II. Drawing the Boundaries
Introduction: From Border Patrol to Border Petrol Stations?
4. The ‘Centripetal’ Discursive Strategy: Nationalising the Territory
5. The ‘Centrifugal’ Discursive Strategy: De/Renationalising the Territory

Part III. Constructing the Language
6. “Our German” (1820-1918)
7. Making Luxembourgish a Language




The book addresses both specialists and a general readership interested in the history and theory of nation-building, historiography, spatial representations, language policies and the history of Luxembourg.


Collection Information