Manneken Pis, a fountain featuring a bronze child urinating, has stood on the same Brussels street corner since at least the mid-fifteenth century. Since there is no consensus on its meaning, it has been used to express many different readings of social relations in a complex city and nation state. It has formed part of the festival culture of the city - from royal entries to gay pride - but has also been exploited in conflicts arising out of war and occupation, and the tensions inherent in modern Belgium. Drawing on archives, histories, police reports, devotional literature, ephemera and a wealth of other sources, Catherine Emerson examines how one smaller-than-lifesized water source has come to embody a certain sort of Brussels identity.

chapter |6 pages


chapter 1|34 pages

Telling Stories

chapter 2|24 pages

Locating Manneken Pis

chapter 3|28 pages

Ceremony and Celebration

chapter 4|31 pages

Contested Images

chapter |2 pages