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Paul Kohlenberg

Paul Kohlenberg
LLM in IDLHR 2008-2009

Nationality: German

Where are they now?

For me, the IDLHR programme was by far the most formative event in my academic life and it will surely continue to inform my research projects. After leaving Warwick, I won a PhD Scholarship at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford for my research in Contemporary Chinese Studies.

During a six months work stint in West Africa, I assisted a local tribe and their king in a few rather important issues and in doing so I was very glad to have IDLHR knowledge as a yardstick. For years, the tribe had, without substantive results, tried to regain a sacred statue from a European Museum. After a series of deliberations (that involved a lot of beer) we decided to expand this effort both politically and legally. Recently, a top law firm for reclaiming cultural goods has taken up the case, while a team of journalists is preparing a TV-documentary about the history of the statue. Local schoolchildren drew hundreds of pictures of their statute, which, I hope, made them feel that they are contributing to the efforts. Some of the drawings were sent to the relevant administrators in Europe.

Other projects included the building of a rather big health centre. At the time of writing, the construction is still under way, but some of the project’s (financial and bureaucratic) problems can be best understood within the analytical framework of legal pluralism (which in this case involves a corrupt state, a (relatively) benevolent (yet penniless) traditional ruler, and a largely Western/Christian health infrastructure).