Friday, December 30, 2011

Heading back to Eastern DRC 1/2

The last few days (weeks) a lot of running around took place, but now my bag is almost packed and I think I'm quite well-prepared. Between Dec31 and Mar4 I'll be in the DRC for fieldwork, and expect to be away from internet for maybe two to three weeks at a time. I was hoping to upload posts via SMS (see here) but the service doesn't work for Congolese networks. So expect posts in bursts upcoming weeks.

If you want to get in contact. My phone-number is +243 998 399 330 or (between 5-6pm GMT+2) +88 2164 3340 723.

Tomorrow morning I fly first to Turkey and then to Uganda, from where I hope to take a buss to Congo via Rwanda... I see many hours ahead in which I will have time to write about what the plans are for the weeks to come. Thus more soon!

Monday, December 26, 2011

40 Best Protest Signs of 2011.

Saw these some time ago. They're fantastic. My three favorites:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thank you Earth Institute.

Spread over four trips I have lived in East Congo for over a year now. However, my role has always been that of a designer of the evaluation and trainer of the enumerator teams or, once in the field, as team leader to either implement the evaluation or check on its quality. I thus have had only very limited time in the field to actually work on my own disseration. Therefore, at the end of this month, I'll head to the Congo again, until March, and work solely on my disseration. Over the last months I have done a lot of preparation and everything seems to be set up for village mapping, field experiments and indepth interviews. On purpose I will thus not be connected with the IRC - our implementing partner there. Another reason is that now it is possible to stay overnight in the villages - something that is important for a researcher (I have done it before in Congo) but also something that the security rules of the IRC explicitely forbid.

One big drawback of all this is that I have to pay for everything myself: flights to the DRC and back, the enumerators, accomodation, in-country transport, etc. And Congo is everything but a cheap country for fieldwork. While the Center for the Study of Development Strategies provided funding to conduct fieldwork, I've saved money over the months to be able to add several thousand dollar out of my own pocket. However, last Tuesday I heard that I will be a 2011-2012 Graduate Fellow at the Earth Institute's Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity, which comes with $3,000 for this fieldwork. Woah! Thank you Earth Institute!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And we're back.

I know; there hasn’t been a single post since I arrived in New York City last September (the start of the Fall 2011 semester). Now the semester is over and I left NYC again... and I am on my way to the DR Congo.

Last semester

Although short (around three months), it was a fantastic semester. You’re ready for a summary? I got three (!) field-projects approved by Columbia’s IRB. I worked on my dissertation (migration, cooperation, the impact of NGOs, etc.). Several papers were sent to conferences that will take place next year. With Macartan and Raul an R&R at a good journal was re-submitted (hopefully more on this in a future post). I presented my dissertation work at Columbia's CP workshop, and was discussant at CAPERS for a paper presented by Leonard Wantchekon. Together with colleague Neelan we worked out our network field experiment. An application for a bursary was sent out (I should hear from them soon so I’m keeping my fingers crossed). Today it was confirmed that I’ll be consulting for an evaluation undertaken by Wageningen University and the Dutch government in Congo. And it seems a book for which we are writing a chapter about Voix des Kivus is going to get published at Oxford University Press. I spent several days consulting for the IRC, and also worked with the IRC on a to-be project in Sierra Leone. I visited several of Columbia University's CP seminars, CP workshops and Political Economy breakfasts. Also, together with Massimo Morelli the last months I spent 3 times a week 2.5 hours in the gym. And I finally had a longer period of time in NYC so was able to see more of the city (for example the disappointing dinosaur exhibition in the Natural History Museum), and I had some fantastic weekends out of the city with friends. Oh and I even tried dating this semester (although little luck there). Thus a fantastic and busy semester, but I do feel that I didn't do enough. The reason is that I spent too little time on my dissertation proper. I’m a fifth year student and really should have a paper or three specifically on my dissertation finished by now. My thing for next semester!

Back to the Congo

So I’m heading back to the DRC? Yes. I’m now in Berlin at the Freie Universitaet to present our Voix des Kivus project and I’ll be in the Netherlands and London for a few days, but then the 31st of December I’m flying to the Congo. Actually I’m flying to Uganda; I didn’t have a lot of money so I'll try to find a bus from there to Bukavu. I will be in Sud Kivu for two months to do fieldwork specifically for my dissertation. More in the next posts! It's good to be back though.

A weekend in Massachusetts