‘Workers of the World’? A Digital Approach to Classify the International Scope of Belgian Socialist Newspapers, 1885–1940

  • Joke Daems Ghent University
  • Thomas D’haeninck
  • Simon Hengchen
  • Tecle Zere
  • Christophe Verbruggen


Socialism has always been strongly related to internationalism, yet the attitude towards and expression of internationalism has likely changed throughout the years. Events such as the First World War, the post-war revival of institutionalized internationalism and the increasing geopolitical tensions during the Interwar Period are likely to impact the degree of internationalism found in socialism. In this paper, we use digital tools to search for expressions of ‘banal’ internationalism and cosmopolitanism in Belgian socialist discourse from 1885 until 1940 by text mining two socialist newspapers: the French journal Le Peuple and the Dutch Vooruit. The goal is to highlight some of the difficulties encountered in collecting and processing the relevant data, and to showcase two potential analyses once the data has been acquired and prepared: a study of the most frequent locations throughout time via Named-entity recognition (NER) and a collocation analysis to study international and cosmopolitan sentiments.