Luxemburgische Zeitgeschichte

A small country in a global context: the case of Luxembourg’s cultural policy

This paper focuses on a small nation state instead of a big country to provide a different perspective on cultural policy history. Due to its small size, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has been influenced by the cultures of its neighbouring countries and looked beyond its national boundaries for inspirations. Members of the political, cultural and economic elite studied abroad and brought ideas and transnational contacts to Luxembourg. Hence, Luxembourg’s national cultural policy needs to be examined within the international context. Throughout the cultural policy of the 20th century, we discover numerous examples of how European and international developments have affected Luxembourg’s cultural policy.
During the interwar period, a national era initiated by the First World War, the increasingly interventionist state promoted a national culture alongside a high culture imported from France and Germany. Intellectuals developed the idea that Luxembourgish culture was created by the mixture of French and German cultures. For its cultural policy, the government took inspiration from examples abroad: Luxembourg’s first law on the protection of national monuments and sites (1927) was influenced by a French law of 1913. In the 1970s, the development of a new cultural policy around concepts such as democratization of culture cannot be understood without the developments in other countries. From the 1980s onwards, European and global developments have increasingly influenced Luxembourg’s cultural policy. The promotion of the creative industries, for instance, is the most recent example of how Luxembourg follows a global trend.
This paper has several aims. First, it wishes to analyse how Luxembourg has adapted models and reacted to developments abroad. Second, it wants to investigate to what extent Luxembourg has shifted its geographic horizon when looking for models and ideas. Third, it advocates for a cultural policy history that does not limit itself to national borders.

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