Images of Industrial Life and Vocational Training: Scouting as a Liminal Space for Educating a Workers’ Elite in 1920s Luxembourg

This paper looks at a specific set of corporate images, namely photographs of apprentices of the Luxembourg steel conglomerate ARBED, and analyzes how young workers are depicted in these images. The paper draws on a collection of 2,251 glass plate negatives (re)presenting ARBED’s industrial cosmos, including its vocational school the Institut Emile Metz. The roughly 160 images of apprentices contained in the collection put on display the apprentices’ bodies and a variety of activities in different contexts. The images’ contents testify to the institute’s programmatic hybridity and the constant (re-)mix of formal and semi-formal learning activities intended to educate natural, urban, mobile and communal men and future workers. Our focus is on Boy Scouts activities in a variety of different environments, which have functioned as a liminal space for educating a workers’ elite, mitigating the risks of industrialization and fostering social harmony and cultural belonging.

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