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Autumn visiting fellow

We are delighted to welcome back to the SRU our Autumn visiting fellow - Dr Vicky Van Bockhaven.

Vicky holds MA’s in Social and Cultural Anthropology (Catholic University of Leuven) and World Art History (University of East Anglia, UGent), and earned her PhD in 2014 from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  Her research methodology is interdisciplinary combining expertise in the domains of material culture studies, world art history, historical anthropology, and ethno-history.

Prior to her academic career, Dr Van Bockhaven 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). She curated the semi-permanent exhibition “Display of Power” at the MAS, and the exhibition “Headdresses from Central Africa” at the RMCA.

She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the UGent Department of African Languages and Cultures on the BRAIN-project CongoConnect since 2015, which builds on her doctoral research on Leopard men in Eastern Congo, and will continue to work there as an assistant professor for the next 5 years.


Whilst at the SRU Dr Van Bockhaven will be working on a monograph Revisting Rebellion: collective therapies in the political history of Northeast Congo and South Sudan (ca. 1850-today). The purpose is to unveil the role of initiation societies giving access to magico-medicinal substances and charms to improve well-being, to heal social and physical ills, and to attack enemies. These were catalysts of change in political history, often appearing as insurgencies, and form a potent domain for the study of African agency under colonial rule.The study of their history –including their colonial recasting as irrational and subversive secret societies- helps to shed light on recent rebellions and ritually-empowered militias, with which they share similarities.


Vicky will be with us until the end of this term and is based up on the mezzanine.