This website is the work of the research network ‘The Congo Free State Across Language, Culture, Media’.
Probing the renowned myth of ‘the heart of darkness’, this project is the first to analyze the Congo Free State under Leopold II (1885-1908) as a space of international cultural encounter through an analysis of cultural production across language (Dutch, Italian, French, English etc), media (literature, photography etc) and culture (Europe, US, Africa). From this new perspective, the Congo Free State will be considered as a transnational phenomenon with a significant impact across the fin the siècle world.
Our aim is to expose cross-linguistic, transcultural and transmedial connections between Congo Free State materials never before explored in a comparative context, hereby turning the Congo Free State into a case study par excellence for cultural exchange in Europe overseas history; to develop a new methodology which moves beyond the ‘coloniser versus colonised’ paradigm, recasting European imperial culture in terms of entanglements and proximities across language, media, and culture.
The latter critical enterprise can only be undertaken in an international research collaboration. Therefore we have set up a permanent, structurally embedded Congo Free State research network that endeavors to organize three annual meetings, two joint publications and a virtual research portal creating a focal entry point for anyone interested in the Congo Free State.