Doing research in far-flung places of the Earth however—as I pictured my future a few years ago—is not part of my job. I do not regret this. After all, there are many kinds of valuable knowledge and I am very happy to know what it means to run a research project in countries affected by conflict. That said, I have never abandoned the thought of trying to engage with such a country and its people on my own terms—to some extent freed from the burden of professional obligations.
This month, and after a (very) long preparation time, I started a part-time PhD at Ghent University, while I continue to work for RVI in a more limited capacity. My studies will aim to investigate police and policing practices in Kisangani, DRC and its surroundings to shed a light on how public authority is constituted and maintained in urban and rural settings in Congo. And to my delight, this will involve fieldwork in an arguably far-flung place of the Earth.