Bert Ingelaere (1979-2022)

Our dear colleague, Prof. Dr. Bert Ingelaere, unexpectedly passed away on 4 February 2022.

Bert was a kind and warm person, a deep thinker, a dedicated teacher, a highly respected member of the academic community, a very appreciated colleague and a dear friend. He will be remembered – far beyond IOB – for his profound knowledge of  the long-term effects of conflict in the African Great Lakes region. Bert was born on 16 February 1979 in Leuven, Belgium. His studies and work brought him to Rwanda in July 2004, where his long journey into understanding life after mass violence  started, and later brought him to Burundi and other countries in the Great Lakes region. 

Bert joined IOB in 2005, as a researcher on a project that analysed the link between political transitions and transitional justice. He obtained his PhD in Development Studies at the University of Antwerp in 2012. He became a tenure track lecturer at IOB in 2016, and an associate professor in 2021.

His integrity in and dedication to research resulted in many outstanding publications and thoughtful presentations. His award-winning book ‘Inside Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts: Seeking Justice after Genocide’, based on his doctoral research and published in 2017, remains a key academic reference on Rwanda’s search for transitional justice. He was an inspiring supervisor of many master students and five doctoral students.

We are grateful for Bert’s professional and personal contributions to our institute. 

About Bert

(from his personal page at UAntwerp)


In the context of a political anthropology that works across localized, national, and international networks, governance levels and dynamics, I study the legacy of mass violence, post-conflict recovery and 'development' in Africa's Great Lakes region and ... beyond.

The long-term impact of mass violence on institutions

Charles Tilly famously stated that states make war, and war makes states. However, little is known about the impact of war and other instances of state-sponsored violence on less tangible factors, e.g. civic and political participation, altruism and collective action, trust and trustworthiness or feelings of security. These less tangible factors are often captured under the umbrella term “(informal) institutions”. Understanding the (long-term) impact of wartime violence on these institutional and social processes is key for our understanding of a society’s postwar recovery, transformation and, ultimately, development. I seek to understand what factors shape people’s differential experience of human security, trust and political participation over time by analyzing hundreds of life history narratives and trajectories from individuals living in countries that experienced large-scale violence in the recent past. 

Mobility: socio-economic (poverty) and physical (migration)

By studying changes in household positions and critical junctures in life histories, this research project aims to identiy patterns and perceptions of socio-economic transformation, changes in the self-reported experiences of well-being and the events and policies that correlate with physical, economic and social mobility (and thus changing or enduring social inequalities). The overarching concern is understanding factors shaping unequal trajectories into and out of poverty over time and how these trajectories are experienced. This research also pays attention to attempts to move out of poverty through internal migration. 

Knowledge, method and data

Any study needs a preliminary and continuous reflection on existing knowledge and the process of knowledge construction; hence my interest in the sociology of knowledge. In addition, and although my research is often ethnographically-driven, I am interested in mixed method approaches that can deal with or uncover the complexity of a research topic. I also have a keen interest in the use of life/oral histories as a research technique.