Fights with the police: were things better in the old days?


About the research

On social media clips of skirmishes between citizens and the police regularly pop up. In a flash, they go viral and elicit a lot of reactions, not least the classic "things used to be better in the old days". But is that correct? Was there less violence on the streets in the past? To explore this, historian Martin Schoups (University of Ghent - FWO) delves into documents from 19th-century Antwerp.

Martin Schoups
FWO - UGent

Modernists are sometimes called "gazette readers" by their fellow historians. Martin Schoups carries this nickname with great pleasure. He spends most of his professional time reading old newspapers in search of special events: fights, meetings and riots. After an Erasmus stay in Bologna and obtaining his Master's degree at UGent, he started an FWO fellowship in Ghent. For his research, he wanders through the streets of Antwerp (from the past, admittedly). On these paper walks, he wants to find out which different groups used to consider themselves "masters of the street". And how they fought this mastery among themselves.

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