I have been avoiding this reality for some time, taking on an African country whenever a project demanded such a case study, ignoring the fact that many of my friends and colleagues are now more knowledgable about substantial parts of the continent than I am (even excepting that I haven’t managed to read more than the headlines in months). I’m currently working on a project for my Democracy, Governance, Stabilization and Post-Conflict Reconstruction class in which I have to choose a problem of democracy, governance and/or stabilization in a post-conflict country and, of all the countries available, I picked Bosnia. And I love it. I can’t pronounce or even spell any of the names that I am reading about, but Bosnia is suddenly fascinating to me, because it is an excellent case study for what is now really driving me: the problem of de-normalizing and de-norming violence as a means of conflict resolution and normalizing trust relationships across lines of fractionalization.
I still wake up every spring wishing I was in South Africa, and I know I’ll continue to choose case studies from the continent (I’m already considering Somalia, South Africa and Sudan as case studies for the normalization project), but my head just isn’t in it anymore. I began studying IR and anthropology in order to study Sub-Saharan Africa, but as I’ve progressed thru my studies, I’ve discovered so many questions that can’t be answered in Africa alone. In this point in my life, I would rather focus my energies on them, rather than limit myself to a single geographic area, however vast and diverse.