Dr. Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka is a lawyer, political scientist, lecturer, and post-doctorate researcher. He received his doctorate degree from the School of Political and Social Sciences of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. His doctoral dissertation focused on land grabbing by local elites in the African Great Lakes region: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda), particularly on issues of power and resistance in relation with access to natural resources in this region. In addition to natural resources, his current postdoctoral research focuses on issues related to the peasantry and armed groups in the region, and critical Afro-diasporic thinking. Nyenyezi Bisoka is involved in collaborative projects at the Catholic University of Leuven (where he is also a visiting professor and a post-doctoral fellow/researcher), the University of Antwerp, Wageningen University, Cambridge University, Ghent University, and the London School of Economics. He is also an assistant professor at the Catholic University of Bukavu and is affiliated to the Higher Institute of Rural Development in the DRC, and the University of Burundi. He is therefore involved in teaching and coordinating research projects in Rwanda, Burundi and DRC. In addition, Nyenyezi Bisoka has co-constructed the Land Rush Theatre method, and tested it out in various settings. Before starting his doctoral studies, he was involved with cooperation for development in Africa projects, especially with the Belgian development cooperation agency, Swiss agency for development and cooperation, and the European Union. He is also a researcher at the Reference Center for Expertise on Central Africa based in Belgium), a forum for dialogue and synergy in order to strengthen North-South cooperation. Nyenyezi Bisoka is currently working on projects on land issues and governance with the European Union and the World Bank. He is co-editor of the Conjoncture de l’Afrique Centrale, a peer reviewed book published annually on developments in Central Africa. Many of his scholarly writings are published internationally in French and English in highly reputable journals. Aymar has won several international awards, including the Young African Researcher Award of the Review of African Political Economy in 2014, the Individual Research Grant of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) in 2017, and the Individual “Meaning-making Research Initiatives” (MRI) Grant of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in 2018. He has recently received two fellowships for research visits to Oxford University in 2019 and Cambridge University in 2020.
This project is based on three case studies on peasant resistance to rural land and agrarian policies in Burundi, Rwanda and DRC (3 case studies in 3 border areas). The project moves from the empirical assumption that the three countries moved from a "peace of arms" to a land access 'war'. The shift was enabled by the failure of post-conflict development policy, and importantly of rural development policies to center and consider local realities. It is policy failings which led to local peasants joining armed groups and triggering an 'access war'. The research is innovative insofar as it draws from experiences of peasants resistance to the implementation of these policies, from local negotiations over access to land and it analyses arrangements between local elites and peasants so to call into question the engineering of specific post-conflict development policies, and of the idea of liberal peace in general. Finally, the project calls for reframing rural policies so to understand them in conjunction with conflict dynamics in the region. .