House, City, World, Nation, Globe

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Natacha Roussel

This timeline starts in Brussels and proportions itself variably. It is an attempt to situate some of the events in the life, death and revival of the Mundaneum in a broader context, and to relate them to both local and international events. By connecting several geographic locations at different scales, it is hopefully provoking cqrrelations in time and space that could help us formulate questions about the ways local events repeatedly mirror and reformulate global situations, and vice versa.

The ambitious project of archive collection in the Mundaneum is imagined by Paul Otlet with support of Henri Lafontaine at the end of the XIXth century, a time when colonialism is at its heights, brigging large commercial incomes to occidental countries, giving a sense of security, where everything seemed to be possible, and it felt the intellectual and material benefits of rational thinking could be spread and become the source of all goods. The first tensions between colonial/commercial powers and local population are only starting to manifest themselves through local revolts such as Fachoda and Boers; but this great sense of strengh is quickly tempered by the coming war knocking at the doors of modern European society.

The Mudaneum is linked by many aspects to the larger movement towards a structured networked society, that is also fed by the wealth of the times; in this context it is important to emphasize that Henri Lafontaine's thinking, while constantly energized by Paul Otlet's encompassing view of classification systems and standards, strongly associates the Mundaneum project to an ideal of peace. Firstly the Mundaneum archives are constituted with an intentionality, a major effort is made to include documents refering to often negeleted topics, that could be considered as alternative, such as the well known archives of the feminist movement in Belgium but also information on anarchism and pacifism. But furthermore, while the project is always in extension, and as Otlet's view of archives and organization extends to all domains and becomes overwhelming, Lafontaine asserts that general peace could be achieved through social development by the means of education, and access to knowledge. Their common view is nurtured by an accute perception of their epoch, they observe the major evolution in the organization of civil society; they also affirm their objective to structure an international network. The Mundaneum project is very much in tune with the socio politics of its time; Henry Lafontaine's intervention helps to root the process of archive collection in a larger network of associations and meta-structures. This is a conscious process of thought, that takes place in a larger theoretical framework representing this universal archive of all knowledge as a ressource for the promotion of education towards development of better social relations. The ever ambitious process of the Mundaneum archive takes place in the context of the general internationalization of society, already becoming crucial at the end of the 19th century, while at the same time the social gap increases due to the booming industrial society. This (gap?) was addressed in Brussels by the brand new discipline of sociology [1] that tried to formulate something that would be a legal engineer to address social inequalities.

However Interantionalisation is not only a fact of industrial society, it is also a dynamic motivation to structure sociall and political networks among other things via polical negociations and civil society organisations. Quite a few broad structures develop simultaneously to the formulation of a orld view that would be based on international agreements rather than left to individual and commercial initiatives. Otlet and Lafontaine spent a large part of their lives on attempts to formulate a mondial society. While Lafontaine clearly roots his thinking in a strong civil society organization, according to Benoit Friedman, Otlet is the first person to use the term Mondialisation in French (seems with this phrase you set up a contrast between Lafontaine and Otlet that I don't understand from this sentence?) [2].

The communication systems associated with the Mundaneum were conceived in between the two World Wars. Some of them such as the Mondothèque were imagined as prospective possibilities, but others were already implemented at the time and formed the basis of an international communication network, consisting of postal services and telegraph networks. Otlet and Lafontaine's project took place in an era of international agreements over communication networks. It appears that associative structures (which ones?), acted as networks of information-sharing organizing modalities of exchange to the general benefit of civil society. It was also the epoch of international agreements between countries, structuring international life from diplomacy to normalisation; some of these structures still form the basis of our actual globalized organization, but they are all challenged by private capitalist structures. How is the development of the Mundaneum project related to the development of the actual knowledge economy?

1934 The Mundaneum is closed after a governmental decision. A part of the archives are moved Rue Fétis 44, Brussels to the house of Paul Otlet MOVE HOUSE
1992 Creation of the Internet Society, an American association with international vocation. STANDARD WORLD
1960's Les Amis du Palais Mondial organize different events to celebrate the memory of Paul Otlet. EVENT HOUSE
1914 The Palais Mondial sets up at Parc du Cinquantenaire 11. The opening is delayed due to the upcoming World War I. MOVE CITY
1920 Foundation of the League of Nations at the Paris peace conference. EVENT WORLD
1920 Opening of the Palais Mondial in Parc du Cinquantenaire. EVENT CITY
1924 Foire du caoutchouc (Rubber fair) in the Palais Mondial. Some collections will be moved to make space for the event. MOVE CITY
1941 Some files from the Mundaneum collections concerning international associations, are transferred to Germany. They are assumed to have propaganda value. MOVE WORLD
1934 Publication of Otlet's book Traité de documentation. PUBLICATION WORLD
1891 Henri Lafontaine publishes an essay Pour une bibliographie de la paix. PUBLICATION NATION
1895 2-4 September First Conférence de Bibliographie at which it is decided to create l'Institut International de Bibliographie (IIB). ASSOCIATION CITY
1893 Otlet and Lafontaine start together l'Office International de Bibliologie Sociologique (OIBS). ASSOCIATION CITY
1910 May Official Creation of the International union of associations (IUA). In 1914, it federates 230 organizations, a little more than half the existing ones. The IUA promotes internationalist aspirations and desire for peace that will lead in 1920 to the creation of the Société des Nations. ASSOCIATION WORLD
1907 June Otlet and Lafontaine organize a Central Office for International Associations that will become the International Union of Associations (IUA) at the first Congrès mondial des associations internationales in Brussels in May 1910. ASSOCIATION CITY
1903 Creation of the international Women's suffrage alliance (IWSA) that will later become the International Alliance of Women. ASSOCIATION WORLD
1910 25-27 August Le Congrès International de Bibliographie et de Documentation deals both with issues of international cooperation between non-governmental organizations and the structure of universal documentation. ASSOCIATION WORLD
1911 More than 600 people and institutions are listed as IIB members or refer to their methods, specifically the UDC. ASSOCIATION WORLD
1914 Germany declares war to France and invades Belgium. EVENT WORLD
1919 June 28 The Traité de Versailles marks the end of World War I. EVENT WORLD
1924 Creation (within the IIB), of the Central Classification Commission focusing on the development of the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC). ASSOCIATION NATION
1931 The IIB becomes the International Institute of documentation (IID) and in 1938 is named International Fédération of documentation (IDF). ASSOCIATION WORLD
1939 September Invasion of Poland by Germany, start of World War II. EVENT WORLD
1908 July Congrès bibliographique international in Brussels. EVENT CITY
1900 Congrès bibliographique international in Paris. EVENT WORLD
1913 Henri Lafontaine is awarded the Nobel Price for Peace. EVENT WORLD
1916 Lafontaine publishes The great solution: magnissima charta while in exile in the United States. PUBLICATION WORLD
1882 Triple Alliance, renewed in 1902. EVENT WORLD
1904 Entente cordiale between France and England over the colonies (what was agreed upon?). EVENT WORLD
1890's First colonial wars (Fachoda, Boers ...). EVENT WORLD
1889 Henri Lafontaine creates La Société Belge de l'arbitrage et de la paix. EVENT NATION
1944 Death of Paul Otlet. He is buried in Etterbeek cemetery. EVENT CITY
1993 Elio Di Rupo organises the transport of the Mundaneum archives from Brussels to 76 rue de Nimy in Mons. MOVE NATION
1890 Henri Lafontaine meets Paul Otlet. PERSON CITY
1894 Henri Lafontaine is elected senator of the province of Hainaut, and later senator of the province of Liège-Brabant. EVENT NATION
1907 Henri Lafontaine is elected president of the Bureau international de la paix that he previously initiated. PERSON NATION
1891 Franco-Russian entente, preliminary to the Triple entente that will be signed in 1907. EVENT WORLD
1870 Franco-Prussian war. EVENT WORLD
1905 First Moroccan crisis. EVENT WORLD
1874 ONU creates the General Postal Union [3] and aims to federate international postal distribution. STANDARD WORLD
1875 General Conference on Weights and Measures in Sèvres, France. STANDARD WORLD
1865 The International Union of telegraph, the future International Telecomunication Union (UTI) sets up. STANDARD WORLD
1947 The International Telecomunication Union (UTI) is attached to the UN. STANDARD GLOBE
1963 American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) developed. STANDARD GLOBE
1966 The ARPANET project is initiated. ASSOCIATION NATION
1974 Telenet, the first public version of the Internet founded. STANDARD WORLD
2012 Failure of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to reach an international agreement on Internet regulation. STANDARD GLOBE

Additional timelines

  2. Benoit Friedman reference ???

What links here

AuthorNatacha Roussel +
PersonPaul Otlet +, Henri Lafontaine + and Elio Di Rupo +
PlaceRue Fétis 44, Brussels +, Cimetière d'Ixelles + and 76 Rue de Nimy, Mons +
"Date" is a type and predefined property provided by Semantic MediaWiki to represent date values.
1934 +, 1992 +, 1960 +, 1914 +, 1920 +, 1924 +, 1941 +, 1891 +, 1895 +, 1893 +, 1910 +, 1907 +, 1903 +, 1911 +, 1919 +, 1931 +, 1938 +, 1939 +, 1908 +, 1900 +, 1913 +, 1916 +, 1882 +, 1902 +, 1904 +, 1890 +, 1889 +, 1944 +, 1993 +, 1894 +, 1870 +, 1905 +, 1874 +, 1875 +, 1865 +, 1947 +, 1963 +, 1966 +, 1974 + and 2012 +