Knowledge networks in rural Europe since 1700

University of Leuven  -  Groot Begijnhof 15,  -  3000 Leuven


The aim of this conference is to unravel the mechanisms of knowledge production, diffusion and reception in the agricultural sector and in the countryside. It aims specifically at fueling research and critical reflection on rural knowledge from an innovative and promising perspective, namely that of networks. According to the sociologists Van Dijk and Castells, we live nowadays in a ‘network society’ steered by new means of communication and spreading of knowledge. It will be revealing to analyse how the sites and bearers of rural and agricultural knowledge (individuals, groups, institutions, media) in Europe, and in its colonial territories, were connected to each other and to the non-rural world, how they influenced each other, and how these networks shaped agriculture itself and sustained, even up to now, a more or less distinct rural identity.


Organising committee
  • Paul Brassley, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  • Yves Segers, ICAG and MoSa, University of Leuven, Belgium
  • Leen Van Molle, ICAG and MoSa, University of Leuven, Belgium
Institutional organisers
  • Interfaculty Centre for Agrarian History (ICAG), University of Leuven
  • N.W. Posthumus Institute (Research School for Economic and Social History in the Netherlands and Flanders)
  • ESTER (European graduate school for training in economic and social historical research)
  • NAHI (Netherlands Agricultural Historical Institute, University Groningen / Wageningen University)
  • GDRI-CRICEC (Crises and Change in the European Countryside), CNRS and EHESS
  • CORN (Research Network Comparative Rural History of the North Sea Area)


All papers will be posted on this site from 16 August onwards. Please send your papers in pdf- or word-format to

The organizers of the conference will select a number of the presented papers and will explore the possibilities for publishing those either as a special journal issue or as an edited volume.

Practical information


If you are interested to participate at the conference at your own costs, please send a request to or


The conference location is Leuven, a small town in the province of Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium.

The conference will take place in the Holland College, not far from where the Interfaculty Centre for Agrarian History (ICAG), University of Leuven, is housed. It is circa 15 minutes from the railway station and the hotel.

Leuven can easily be reached by plane, train and car too. The main airport in Belgium is Brussels-Zaventem. It offers a fast connection by rail to Leuven. A direct train connects the airport and Leuven in 15 minutes. The railway station Brussels South offers fast connections to Paris, Amsterdam, London and Köln with Thalys, Eurostar and ICE high speed rail.

Click here for directions to the Holland College.


All participants will stay at the Begijnhofhotel. We have booked a hotel room (with breakfast) for each participant-speaker on Wednesday and Thursday evening (27 and 28 August) in the Begijnhofhotel. For more information see

  • du mercredi 27 août 2014 à 13h au  vendredi 29 août 2014 à 17h
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