Staging the Nation in an Intermediate Space: Cultural Policy in Luxembourg and the State Museums (1918-1974)
Doctoral dissertation defended in October 2020.
Cultural policy has been analysed from various perspectives, ranging from sociology over cultural studies to political science. Historians have also been interested in cultural policy, but they have barely reflected on a theoretical framework. In addition, cultural policy has not been thoroughly researched in Luxembourg. The present thesis aims to contribute to this gap and examines how national cultural policy in Luxembourg evolved from the 1920s to the early 1970s. It investigates the presence of the national idea in cultural policy, and possible tensions and connections between the idea of the nation and the use or inclusion of foreign cultural references. Drawing on the concept of Zwischenraum (intermediate space) coined by the historian Philip Ther, the study considers Luxembourg as a nationalised intermediate space with the tensions that this status entails. Furthermore, it investigates how the State Museums, particularly the history section, evolved in the cultural policy context. To analyse the evolution of cultural policy, three interconnected aspects are considered: structures, actors and discourses. Three main periods are considered in a chronological fashion: the interwar period marked by efforts of nation-building and an increasingly interventionist state; the Nazi occupation of Luxembourg (1940-1944), when the idea of an independent nation-state was turned into its opposite; the post-war period until the early 1970s, subdivided into an immediate post-war period marked by restitution and reconstruction, and the 1950s and the 1960s characterised by a state-administrator and a conservative cultural policy. These periods, however, are not always neatly separable and reveal continuities. For each period, the State Museums are analysed in their cultural policy context: from their construction in the age of nation-building, over their ambiguous situation during Nazi occupation, to their new missions in the post-war period.