Priest Jean-Marie Gantois (1904-1968) Astray into Politics.

A study on an identity entrepreneur


Can communities be organised without any political organisation – embryonic though it might be ? This question has already been addressed by some anthropologists and philosophers who discussed the potential existence and the likely sustainability of politics-free societies. Only in literature – as it seems – can examples be found, all the more so to contradict the actualness of the model; or in utopian essays by authors whose purpose and credit may be considered as arguable.

One of these authors was Priest Jean-Marie Gantois (1904-1968) who endeavoured to defend and enhance a community called « Flemings » or « Dutchpeople » (both words were used to designate the same population supposed to live from Northern France up to the north-east of the Netherlands). Gantois neither created a political party nor supported any political group: his action mainly consisted in writing articles and essays to convince his readership of the validity of his assumptions, on the one hand, and in staging cultural events and securing friendly relationships with notables, on the other hand.

In this conference, I will firstly examine Gantois’s intellectual apprenticeship, his reactions towards contemporary ideologies and the making of his own doctrine on archetypal Flanders. Then I will determine his position in several social fields, his involvement in creating interactional modes and his responsability for some invented traditions. Finally I will present his conception of collective action, his actual initiatives and his endeavour to institutionalise a nationalitarian dynamic.

Throughout my talk I will focus on Gantois’s insistence on not only ignoring, but also ridding oneself of politics to serve one’s community, which can be achieved only if one wholly complies with one’s natural collective self.

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