After the first year of successful cooperation, the members of the CRC/TRR 228 “Future Rural Africa” met in the small town of Unkel close to Bonn for a 3-day-retreat. The aim of the meeting was a stock-taking of research and logistics activities, in addition to the discussion of conceptual questions, planning of the next steps, and last but not least, team-building. The retreat gave the opportunity to look back at the highlights of the year 2018, which include the recruitment of 7 postdocs, 23 junior researchers/PhD students, the establishment of a central office in Bonn (Dr. Claudia Gebauer and Monika Faller) and Cologne (Bea Wittger), the organization of institutional affiliations and MoUs with partner universities and other partner institutions in Africa, and two inception workshops in Namibia and Kenya. In addition, a summer school was held for German and African PhD students in Nairobi in September, and the junior researchers organized another workshop for themselves in the vicinity of Cologne. The retreat in Unkel was organized in thematic sessions. In one of the sessions, the participants identified blind spots that are not covered by research topics of the team members. Break-out groups discussed the conceptualization of practices of future-making and methodological approaches along with selected articles.
After first exploratory visits already earlier this year, all junior researchers will embark on their extended field trips for data collection early next year. To prepare for the field studies, language courses for a number of vernacular languages are currently organized. The administrative framework for the cooperation with the African partner institutions will help scientific cooperation and facilitate visa and research permit provision.
We are looking back on an exciting year full of challenges and small successes that would not have been possible without the active engagement of all of our staff members and external partners. We hope that together we will be able to continue on this path in 2019 and look forward to fruitful collaborations in the near future!