Since October 2015 I am working as professor African Studies at the Department of African Languages and Cultures at Ghent University. My fields of research include African literature and African popular culture from a cultural-historical perspective. I am engaged in research on gender, oral narrative and monster studies, and on autobiographical writing in Africa. Geographically the focus is on Central Kenya, Oromia, and Namibia/Angola.
Some more notes:
After having finished my studies in History and in African Studies, I received a Ph.D. degree from Leiden University (The Netherlands, 1996) with a thesis on oral and written literature, identity and gender in Central Kenya. I then worked at Cologne University (Germany) on a post-doctoral research project, studying violence and exile on the basis of fieldwork with South-East Angolans. From 2001 to 2004 I was engaged in research at Ghent University on the relations between nationalism, religion and popular culture in Northern Angola.
In 2005-2006 I carried out a project on the socio-cultural history of forty years of SNV Netherlands Development Organisation at the African Studies Centre in Leiden. Between 2007 and 2013 I was engaged in a programme on communication technologies, mobility and social relations in historical perspective, with as research focus south-east Angola.
As of 2014 I taught at Ghent University on a part-time basis and carried out historical research within the Kongo King project (http://www.kongoking.org/).
+ Kwale, Kenya, May 2023: 10 days: Annual Meeting of VLIR-UOS Team project: ‘Storytelling and Young People Coping with Crisis: Oral Narratives and Crisis Management in Kenya and Ethiopia’. (https://www.ol4d.ugent.be/ )
+ Jimma, Ethiopia, October/November 2022: 1 week: discussion of research cooperation; offering lecture; OL4D-Team-meeting; Institute of Oromo Studies at Jimma University; visit to elders in Abba Jifar; visit museum.
+ Isiro, DR-Congo, September 2022 : Lecture: ‘L’actualité des contes: repenser les littératures orales comme histoire d'épistémologie’. Université de l’Uélé and Institut Supérieur Pédagogique
+ Isiro, DR-Congo, September 2022: Moderator & participation in workshops ‘La valorisation du patrimoine de Haut-Uélé’, organised by Dr. Vicky van Bockhaven and Félix Fufulafu.
Papers and Conferences in 2021/2022:
1. Kongo Academy, 54 June 2022, online, Paper presentation: ‘Formal Education Policies in the Kongo Kingdom of the 16th Century.’
2. Support International Workshop: ‘Rethinking Time and Gender in African History’ & chair for Keynote. Organisation Dr. Jonna Katto (Ghent 24-25 March 2022).
3. Lecture: Monster: Other/Alternative (Ghent, 1 March 2022).
4. Organisation guest lectures Prof. Mossisa: ‘Local and global concerns: Hachalu Hundessa, international media and the Oromo Arts’ & Prof. Wasamba: ‘Fieldwork in the COVID19–era: experiences from the University of Nairobi.’ Ghent, 26 November 2021.
Papers and Conferences in 2020/2021:
1. Paper for the Valedictory of Lilyan Kesteloot, Académie des Sciences d'outre-mer, Title of the paper: ‘Monsters and bodies in oral narratives from Lilyan Kesteloot’s collections’, on-line, 25 June 2021.
2. Paper for UGent Narmesh-research group, Title of the presentation: ‘Who is at the centre? Gikuyu ogre narratives and posthuman thinking’, on-line,, 5 May 2021.
3. Project: ‘Academic Performance’, 3-C project between University of the Western Cape, University of Missouri and Ghent University, on-line, February/March 2021.
Organisation of 5 online activities on the potential role of performance in academic teaching and research. Partners: Suzanne Burgoyne (Missouri); Jane Taylor (UWC), Christel Stalpaert (UGent).
4. Lecture for Basis – Student union of International Studies, Leiden University, ‘Book Club- Special Edition Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, The perfect nine, online, 11 November 2020. Including conversation with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ.
5. Paper for Conference: ‘Eastern African literatures in the 21st century: achievements, challenges, perspectives’, Department of Literature, University of Nairobi. 12-14 October 2020, online.
Title of the presentation: ‘Ogres and sociability. Monsters and their relations with humans in Gikuyu oral narratives (early colonial period)’.
6. Keynote for Conference: ‘Women, Climate Change , Environment and Development’, African Women Studies Centre, University of Nairobi, 14-16 October 2020, online.
Keynote Address: ‘Reflections on ogres and their environment in Gikuyu oral narratives from a gendered perspective’.
1. Organisation of the dance film: ‘Making Men’ door Dunia Dance Theatre and Afrikera Arts Trust (Zimbabwe), online event, 21-26 April 2020.
Followed by 3 workshops by choreographer Harold George on 23, 30 April en 7 May (online) for master students ‘Gender & identity in African literatures’.
2. Presentation by Michael Meeuwis and Inge Brinkman, ‘Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness & Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: Verbeelding en (de)kolonialiteit in dialoog’, Literair Duet, Ghent, 11 March 2020.
3. Paper in the framework of the thematic stream: ‘Decolonizing English Literature’ (Belgian Association of Anglicists in Higher Education, Ghent, 19 December 2019).
Title of the presentation: ‘Gikuyus and Englishes. Colonial and post-colonial debates on language, education and (de)colonisation (Kenya).’
4. Organising lectures in the framework of DocAfrika (a collaboration between Afrika Filmfestival, Africalia & UGent Africa Platform):
‘Burkinabé Rising’, in the presence of Mirjam de Bruijn, Ghent, 27 November 2019;
‘Totems & Taboos’, in the presence of film-maker Daniel Cattier, Ghent, 6 November 2019.
‘Awani’, in the presence of film-maker Aderonke Adeola, Ghent, 9 October 2019.
5. Organisation and introduction during Book Launch: Afrikaanse Letterkunde (Amsterdam University Press), Ghent, Krook, 25 September 2019. Guest speakers: Melat Gebeyaw Nigussie, Sibo Kanobana, Chokri Ben Chikha, Dahlia Pessemiers Benamar, Sandra Carolina Delgadillo Porcel and Riana Scheepers. Riana Scheepers, South African author, also spoke as part of the UGent Internationalisation@Home programme. The event attracted over 100 people, many students, but also interested general public.
6. Chairing a panel at the ‘Staging slavery around 1800’-workshop, organised by Sarah Adams, Dep. of Literary Studies and GEMS, Thalia, Cel19, CMSI, Ghent, 19 September 2019.
1. International conference: Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies, Bahir Dar (Ethiopia), 19-21 August 2019.
Title of the presentation: ‘Confinement and beyond. Imagining place, mobility and connections in Kenyan detention diaries’.
2. Staff Seminar: ‘Oral literature Literature in Historical Perspective’, Karatina University, 13 August 2019.
3. Introduction during Book Launch: Afrikaanse Letterkunde (Amsterdam University Press), Leiden, African Studies Centre, 17 May 2019.
4. Organisation of a Lecture (Internationalisation@Home-event): Dr. Sue McWatts, ‘Domestic worker narratives in South Africa: An analysis of their language of pain’, Ghent, 6 March 2019.
5. Organisation of a Book Launch (together with Koen Bostoen). The Kongo Kingdom, Cambridge University Press. With guest speaker: Wilfried N’Sondé. Ghent, 5 December 2018.
6. Organisation of a Lecture: Prof. Dr. Sarah van Beurden (Ohio State University), ‘The Cultural Politics of Art and Heritage in Central Africa’, Ghent, AT&C, 14 November 2018.
7. Visit with over 60 participants (students and staff AT&C) to Kirina, performance by Serge Coulibaly, Faso Danse Théatre & Rokia Traoré, in Vooruit, Ghent, 8 November 2018.
8. Organisation of a Lecture: Serge Coulibaly, choreographer of Kirina, Ghent, AT&C, 7 November 2018.
9. Participation in YEBO training, workshop on ‘Intercultural Competencies’, Bloemfontein (South-Africa), 22-25 October 2018.
1. Organisation of Thematic Stream (Godwin Siundu, Tom Odhiambo & Inge Brinkman), ASA-UK, Birmingham, 11-13 September 2018. Title: ‘Text, paratext and context in African autobiographical narratives.’ Organisation of 5 panels with 16 papers.
Title of my presentation in the stream: ‘Translating, editing and self-realisation in
Gakaara wa Wanjaũ‘s Mau Mau Author in Detention’
2. Participation in launch of Brill open access journal Bridging Humanities, Amsterdam, 7 June 2018 as member of the Advisory Board.
3. Paper for TAPAS Workshop: ‘(Dis)claiming pasts’, 14/15 December 2017, Ghent. Title of the presentation: ‘Self-realisation, history and the state in Mau Mau autobiographical writing (Kenya)’.
4. Paper for Symposium 'African Art with Words', in the framework of farewell to Daniela Merolla, 1 December 2017, Leiden. Title of the presentation: ‘The Girl and Her Brother’. Concepts of Slavery and Gender Relations in a Gikuyu Tale from Central Kenya.’
5. 6 october 2017, Ghent: Interview Willem Anker over Buys, ‘n grensroman (2017), in the framework of the: ‘Week van de Afrikaanse Roman’.
For a full list of papers and presentations, do not hesitate to contact me.
- Corona co-ordinator for African Studies section (Since March 2020).
- Chairperson of the Educational Programme Commission (Since March 2020: African Studies, UGent).
- Member of the Quality Cell Education (since March 2020, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, UGent).
- Vice-Member of the Exam Committee (since 2020/2021).
- ZAP-Representative in the Faculty Educational Evaluation Commission (since October 2020).
- Faculty Representative commission Development Cooperation (since November 2020).
- Responsible for the Library Collection L91 African Cultural History (Since 2016/2017, Library Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, UGent).
- Faculty Representative Top Sport & Studies (Since 2017/2018, UGent).
- Faculty Representative to Ghent Africa Platform (Since 2015/2016, UGent).
- Editor-in-Chief of Africa Focus (with Annelies Verdoolaege, Heidi Grunebaum, Maurits van Bever Donker): https://brill.com/view/journals/afoc/
- Editorial Board: Africa Book Link: http://africabooklink.com/
- Advisory Board: African Studies Review
- Advisory Board: Bridging Humanities – Platform for Alternative Methodologies: http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/25425099
- Editorial Board: Lusotopie
- Reviewer for various international journals and publishing houses
- Reviewer of research proposals for various funding organisations