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Six NWO grants for FGW researchers: this is what the scientists are going to do

Six projects from the Faculty of Humanities recently received grants of up to 750,000 euros from the NWO Open Competition. Researchers involved tell how they will spend this money.

Crossing language borders – Felix Ameka, Maria del Carmen Parafita Couto, Enoch Aboh (UvA)

‘Humans have the fascinating ability to use distinct languages in the same conversation. Also, multilinguals can integrate elements from their languages into a single utterance. This practice, known as code-switching, tends to be stigmatised in the European context, but is common and favoured in other parts of the world where multilingualism is the norm. Because of this, our project focuses on two countries, Benin and Belize, where the use of multiple languages is preferred in communication.’ 

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Digital warfare in the Sahel: Fulani popular networks of war and Cultural Violence – Mirjam de Bruijn

'This research seeks to understand the conflicts in the Sahel as network conflicts, in both online and offline networks. We believe that the information circulating in these networks may also legitimise the extreme violence that is part of the conflicts in the Sahel. To gain a better understanding of this, we will combine ethnography, or ethnography of internet social media ethnography (netnography), with computational methods.' 

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On the representation of quantity: how our brains shape language – Jenny Doetjes

'Understanding how language works requires a lot of information about a lot of languages. We already know a great deal about some languages (such as English and Dutch), but to really understand more about the phenomenon of language we need to look at other languages as well. I look forward to working with my research group to gain more insight into patterns in language.' 

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Learning from your errors: the development of word production in young children – Claartje Levelt en Paula Fikkert (RU)

'To pronounce words well, knowledge needs to be present and applied at different levels simultaneously. Toddlers often pronounce words differently from experienced speakers - “bo” for bread, “tei” for train and “fup” for soup, for example - but we still don't really know what we can attribute to lack of knowledge and what we can attribute to the lack of a fluent performance process. In this project, we want to systematically investigate where young language learners' speech production falters and how they make improvements.' 

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Experiencing Fragments – Antje Wessels

'Roman Republican Tragedies constitute a corpus of text that has been preserved only in fragments, but that at the same time has an illuminating history of interpretation. We can see that scholars, both ancient and modern, have tried to adapt the surviving content of these fragments to the characteristics of their supposed model, Greek tragedy, rather than recognise their specific 'Romanness'. We will develop a digital platform that will help identify and manage prejudices about these fragmentary texts.' 

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Forgotten Lineages. Repercussions of the Dutch slavery past in the Indian Ocean World – Nira Wickramasinghe

‘This research project is about the paths through which generations of formally enslaved and their descendants gradually forgot their past of enslavement under Dutch and British imperial rule and became local subjects in Sri Lanka and South Africa. Few people are aware that Sri Lanka was a crucial hub of Dutch slave trade activities in the Indian Ocean world connecting present-day South Africa, Mauritius, and Indonesia. We will re-evaluate early waves of European slavery on the island, question the role of slave ancestry in (re)fashioning communities in creolising colonial suburbs and analyse the life courses of enslaved and their descendants, displaced by imperial powers to Dutch and later British Cape Town from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.’ 

Read more about this project. 

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