My own research interests are local governance, decolonization, identity, conflict, territoriality, land, and the role of history in the eastern Congo. I am mainly interested in the colonial period and the 1960s, but I also sometimes dabble into the pre-colonial period. Because of the particular history of the eastern Congo I am also interested in wider regional processes, and I have been doing research on Rwanda as well. In the future I would like to do some research on Burundi as well as it pertains to relationships with the eastern Congo.
I am available for the supervision of BA-papers and MA-theses pertaining to the history of the Great Lakes region (and especially Congo, Rwanda, Burundi). For topics in this region I can also provide advice as to finding sources because I have experience in the relevant archives (African Archives Ministry of Foreign Affairs, KMMA Tervuren, Kadoc, etc.). I have experience with fieldwork and oral history in these regions.
I am also available for supervision on topics focusing on ‘Congo in Belgium’.
If you cannot come up with your own topic, I have some I can propose:
- Research into Muhumusa and Nyabingi. Muhumusa was a very important priestess who lived in the borderland of what are nowadays Rwanda, Uganda and the eastern DRC. She staged an importance resistance movement against the German colonizers and against the centralizing Rwandan kingdom. This topic can be studied from different angles. The student taking on this topic needs to be able to read German and French sources that are located mainly in Brussels.
- Research into what the Belgian administration in Congo called rélégation. During the colonial period chiefs and other important figures where often exiled into prison camps or other places as punishment. This topic can be studied from different angles. For this topic, the student needs to be able to read sources in French and to work on sources that are mainly in Brussels.
- Research into the way the Belgian colonizers studies local governance in Congo. For this topic, students are invited to write a local history on the basis of archival sources and available literature. The focus is (although the student can also decide otherwise) on the tension between colonial interventions on the one hand and the agency of the colonial population on the other. What does the study into local governance say about the way the ‘colonial state’ is brought into practice? The student has to be able to use French sources and to be prepared to go to Brussels to study the sources.
- Research about chief Kinioni. Kinioni was a chief in the borderland of what are today Burundi and Congo at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. This chief had a conflict with the mwami (King) of Burundi. What does this conflict tell us about state formation and about the way colonial powers contributed to the reinforcement of ‘central’ state power of African polities or kingdoms? What does it say about political and intra-elite competition in the early colonial period? For this research project, the student has to be able to work with sources in French and German that are mainly located in Brussels.
- Research into conflicts in the 1960s in Congo (Mulele, conflicts between local chiefs etc.). This on the basis of Congolese newspapers and other documents mainly located in KMMA Tervuren. The student needs to be able to read French and to go to Tervuren for his/her research.