It’s done – finally

In March 2020, I submitted my PhD. It’s has been a long walk to freedom…

Thanks to my colleagues, friends and family! Here you can read the acknowledgements, the most important page in the entire dissertation. 😉

Foremost, I want to thank my supervisor Ian Taylor for his advice and support during my PhD journey. Not only have I enjoyed our exchanges of views, your impressive academic output, firm political beliefs and personal humility have inspired me, as the combination of these qualities seems rare in this industry. Thanks for having the confidence in me that I myself was lacking all too often. I also want to thank Vassilios Paipais for his thoughts in the initial stages of the research. Needless to say, the countless shortcomings of this study are my own doing.

I am deeply indebted to my interviewees and informants for spending an hour, and sometimes much longer, to share their insights, opinions, contacts and expertise with me. Your contribution to this study has been of immeasurable value.

I owe special thanks to Louise, Anna and David, Maisha and Kate as well as Patricia and Tellan for hosting me during my field research stays. Nilihisi nipo nyumbani. Asanteni sana. Special thanks to Daniel for opening doors to important offices and for the quality time we spent together. Nashukuru, kaka! I look forward to our Kilimanjaro marathon.

I am very thankful for a scholarship from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) which made my PhD studies viable in the first place. Frau Dr. Bitzegeio, Frau Stöhr, herzlichen Dank für die gute Betreuung! I also highly appreciate the organisational support from the FES offices in Lusaka and Dar es Salaam during my field work. Equally, I am grateful for my PhD studentship and fieldwork funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, for a mobility award from the University of St Andrew’s Russell Trust as well as for a Postgraduate Research Fieldwork Bursary from the University of St Andrews and travel funds from the School of International Relations.

Thank you to my friends from Freundeskreis Uganda e.V. Our work gave me purpose – something I missed for long stretches of this PhD journey.

Furthermore, I am deeply grateful for the company of my fellow PhD travellers. Without our conversations, lunch and cigarette breaks, coffee dates, parties, walks and pints, this journey would have been significantly less fun and certainly much lonelier. I also want to thank my friends beyond St Andrews for bearing with me and for making me forget the PhD whenever we reunited. Thank you, Sarah, for encouraging me to ‘find what is always present’.

My gratitude for the support from my parents, Elisabeth and Peter, and my sister, Tamara, can hardly be expressed in words. Our situation has never been easy. In the last four years, you witnessed me falling, gave me time and space to heal my wounds and helped me to get up again. What I feel for you is love.

To close with the metaphor I opened with, I am deeply grateful for having had the opportunity during my PhD to reflect on the essence of the wider journey. After straying for many years of my life, I have started to realise what Daoist philosopher Lièzǐ once described, namely that “those who travel outward seek completeness in things; those who gaze inward find sufficiency in themselves”.

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