Tessa Boeykens is a PhD Research Fellow at the Department of History at Ghent University (Research Group Meta and Public History). She is also a representative in the faculty board at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy at Ghent University.
Her research project, entitled ‘When times collide: A meta-historical analysis of history and memory in post-conflict Guatemala’, builds upon previous ethnographical field research she did for her MA thesis and is funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).
Her areas of expertise include the uses of historical discourses and memory politics in so-called 'transitional justice' contexts. She is especially interested in post-conflict and non-Western approaches to time and historicity, ethnographic fieldwork and participatory action research.
The doctoral research project she currently works on, explores how indigenous survivors in the Alta Verapaz department remember and give meaning to Guatemala’s violent past in relation to (inter)national transitional justice discourses and practices.
Tessa is also one of the coordinators of the interdisciplinary research forum TAPAS/Thinking About the PASt. She is also an associated research fellow at the Human Rights Centre at Ghent University.
TAPAS/Thinking About the PASt is an interdisciplinary research forum based at Ghent University. TAPAS brings together young researchers from different disciplines who reflect on our relationship with the past, whether or not this relation is popular, literary or scientific or whether or not it comes from a historiographical, philosophical, post-colonial, anthropological or sociological agenda. This initiative is meant in the first place for young researchers (pre- and post-doc) working in Belgium and the Netherlands, but in principle it is open to all. The main aim of this project is to give young researchers the opportunity to share their views with their colleagues, to create a broad intellectual network, to get feedback about their own work, and to organize transdisciplinary reading groups and workshops on topics which are too uncommon in their own discipline.
TAPAS organizes yearly lecture series and reading groups. In 2014-2015 the overarching theme was "History, Historical Dialogue and Reconciliation. Promises, Criticisms & Dilemma's". In 2015-2016 we delve into "Colonial Legacies in the Low Countries". In an alternating series of workshops and reading groups, a public debate on Zwarte Piet ('black pete') and a closing session, current Belgian and Dutch postcolonial debates and practices are probed and investigated.
In the course of the last few years, there has been a growing interest in our relationship with the past in a large variety of different cultural and social areas. Examples are historical trauma studies, history and memory, history and identity, history of science, as well as the more traditional philosophy and methodology of historiography. TAPAS is a forum which means that there is no single goal, approach or method. The intention is to bring together different approaches and methods rather than propagate one of them.