Getting Started at the CSVR

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) is a non-governmental organization that was established in Cape Town, South Africa in 1989. The CSVR works to contribute to peace and transitional justice in both South Africa and the greater continent of Africa. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 concerns, I will be working virtually this summer and am fortunate to be working with a team that is accommodating and exciting to work with. Although I will be conducting my work virtually from the United States, I can tell the city and its surrounding views are beautiful from pictures that my supervisor has shown me. I hope to have the opportunity to travel there in the future and experience the sights in person.

I had the opportunity to meet with my supervisor and previous interns throughout the semester and learn more about the projects that they had been working on throughout their time with the CSVR. Because of this, I was able to transition more easily into my own work. To begin, I have been working on a country report for Burkina Faso to add to the larger CSVR database. In order to work on larger projects, the CSVR compiles country reports, particularly on countries that recently underwent a transitional period. Then, they are able to provide those reports to other researchers that may want to conduct transnational or interdisciplinary studies who can obtain an understanding of the individual countries before making connections between them. Moving forward, I hope to have the opportunity to speak with some of my supervisor’s contacts in Burkina Faso regarding their country and its transitional period.

In addition to creating a central database of general knowledge regarding countries in Africa, a recent CSVR project has focused on truth commissions in Africa and conflict related sexual violence (CRSV) and gender based sexual violence (GBSV). The previous CSVR interns had begun work on these types of projects, and in the future, I will likely be continuing some aspects of their work. As my supervisor always says, “there is always more to update”. During my undergraduate career, I conducted a transnational study on the connection between women’s empowerment and terrorism. The study itself looked at larger trends around the world. I am excited for an opportunity to more narrowly focus on the connections between gender and violence in conflicts.

While my work will primarily be focused on research and writing, I am also looking forward to meeting with other employees and interns at the CSVR. I have had the opportunity to meet a few students from the University of Cape Town who will also be working with the CSVR. We are able to discuss the sometimes troubling information that we read about in regard to sexual violence in conflicts and also receive help from both supervisors and other interns when we find ourselves having difficulties obtaining information on certain subjects. Additionally, I was able to attend a conference hosted by the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth, and Reconciliation (GIJTR) in March where the panelists discussed Accountability, Reintegration, and Reparations for CRSV Survivors. I hope to have the opportunity to attend more conferences like this throughout the summer to gain a more thorough understanding of conflicts and transitional justice.

Although my internship only officially started two weeks ago, I am looking forward to continue learning about Burkina Faso and also expanding my knowledge of more countries in Africa as the summer progresses.