I am a PhD researcher at the Department of History at Ghent University (Research Group Meta and Public History). My research is funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and the UGent Global Minds Fund.
Through ethnographic fieldwork and participatory video, I explore the production and mobilization of historical narratives in ‘post-conflict’ Guatemala. More specifically, I focus on the relation between narrativity and political action in indigenous victim-survivor communities in the Cobán region of the Alta Verapaz Department. During my PhD trajectory I gradually developed a participative, filmmaking-based methodology resulting in a performative ethnography of a community filmmaking process.
For the last three years I have been working with the community of Copal AA La Esperanza, a community of 'returnees' threatened by the construction of a hydroelectric dam on its territory. The possible costruction of this dam has opened a discursive space where collective historical narratives are being (re-)negotiated to make land claims and demand historical justice.
My areas of expertise include the uses of historical discourses and memory politics in so-called 'transitional justice' contexts and participatory and visual research methods. I am also is especially interested in post-conflict and non-Western approaches to time and historicity, ethnographic fieldwork and participatory action research.
Together with Maarten Hendriks and Julie Schiltz, who also experiment with participatory video methods in their research projects, we founded the international Participatory Video Festival (PVF). The festival’s first edition (8-11 May, Ghent) was the beginning of a growing international PV::NETWORK and an established visual and participatory methods tradition at Ghent University. The aim of PVF is to explore the possibilities and value of participatory video for social sciences and to learn from the most innovative and relevant video-using trends in- and outside academia; in participatory action research, visual ethnography, visual arts, activism, advocacy work and so on.I am also one of the founders of ENCUENTRO, bringing together people with an interest in Latin American cultures, economies, politics and histories in their many aspects and from a critical perspective. I am also a member of the interdisciplinary research forum TAPAS/Thinking About the PASt and an associated research fellow at the Human Rights Centre at Ghent University.