Exchange to Change | September 2015 | Page 7

Interview with Filip Reyntjens As of January 2016, Filip Reyntjens will become Emeritus Professor at the Institute. Professor Reyntjens’s career spans over forty years with, amongst others, roles of academic, development and human rights practitioner, educator, activist, media commentator, Africa watcher and Chair of IOB. One will have to wait for his biography to learn more about his activities as well as the details. In the meantime, X2C gathered a few insights from his past on themes of contemporary relevance and inquired about his plans for the future. X2C: You are about to leave the Institute that you helped create. Can you remind us of how IOB came into existence? Let me first say that I am extremely happy to have worked at IOB since it started in 2001. Indeed, I am one of the people, together with in particular Stefaan Marysse, who have worked hard to found IOB. I am sort of a merger person. You need critical mass to achieve things. At several moments in the past I have tried to bring together scattered expertise. Some attempts failed but IOB is a real success story. Until the early 2000s, the University of Antwerp was made up of three separate institutions. We were concerned about the fragmentation of development studies. But there was a lot of resistance to the idea of merging because, generally speaking, people are afraid of change. People felt more comfortable in their small institutes and were not sure what their role would be in a larger one. Mergers are difficult to manage but IOB’s went smoothly. We developed a common identity within six months. People were brought together and we developed a ‘we-feeling’. What we have achieved with IOB is that we moved away from minor players that would not have been relevant in the European landscape of development studies. X2C: Based on where IOB is now, how do you see its future? Well, I can