Dr Vicky Van Bockhaven earned her PhD in 2014 from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, UK, and holds MA’s in Social and Cultural Anthropology (Catholic University of Leuven) and World Art History (University of East Anglia, UGent). She wrote her doctoral dissertation on Leopard men from Eastern Congo (ca. 1890-1940), investigating how a canonical form of colonial knowledge – a “mythology” of leopard men – has diverged from complex social events in the colony.
Dr Van Bockhaven currently is a senior FWO research fellow (2020-2023) working on a project titled Transformative Heritage: customary governance, community building and digital restitution in contemporary Northeast Congo. She is the author of several funded BRAIN multiresearcher projects including CONGOCONNECT (2015-2019) and AFRISURGE (2020-2025) and partner in a recently funded BRAIN project CONGOLINES (2021-2025) (see projects under the next tab).
Dr Van Bockhaven has published her research in the Journal of African History and the Journal of Eastern African Studies, including a special issue on customary authority in the past and the present. She is preparing a monograph on her leopard men research and another one on her research in the CONGOCONNECT project provisionally titled Revisiting Rebellion in Northeast Congo (1850-today) which retrieves the role of closed associations in Northeast Congo. These were forbidden and suppressed as rebellious "secret societies' under colonial rule yet played a signifcant role in the political culture throughout history until today.
Prior to embarking on a career in academia, Dr Van Bockhaven has gained multiple years of experience as a researcher and curator at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren) and the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp). This has enabled her to build up a network with different institutions and gain a hands-on experience using ethnographic collections as resources for research and teaching in a multi-faceted way.
In the recent past, Dr Van Bockhaven has taught African History (Introduction to African History and Methods and Sources in African Historiography).
Currently she is (co-)teaching in the MA course Literature, Media and the Arts and the BA course Fieldwork in Africa.
She is also supervising MA theses and PhD's focusing on customary authority, museum anthropology and education, digital restitution.