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ERC Starting Grants for seven Leiden researchers

Seven researchers from Leiden University have been awarded an ERC Starting Grant. This will enable them to start their own project, build their research team and put their best ideas into action.

In total, the European Research Council (ERC) has awarded 628m euros in grants. Forty-four researchers in the Netherlands have received a Starting Grant. The Leiden laureates are:

Martin Berger (Archaeology)

Throughout Europe are ethnographic museums with huge collections of indigenous objects from Latin America. These collections shape the image Europeans have of the indigenous inhabitants of this area. Berger’s project will explore the history of these collections as a whole, making use of computer models and big-data analysis. The aim is to place the individual collections in the wider context of the pan-European collecting frenzy.

Graig Klein (Governance and Global Affairs, Institute of Security and Global Affairs)

In the TERGAP project, Graig Klein and his team will investigate decision-making and strategic violence by terrorist groups. The project aims to improve our ability to predict terrorist violence and thus improve civilian safety and security.

Tomer Fishman (Science, Institute of Environmental Sciences)

How many construction materials do we use in the Global South? That is the question that Fishman wants to answer with the Materials-GRoWL project. Construction materials have a big impact on the environment. Take natural resources, carbon emissions and land use change. Global studies often lump Global South countries together as the ‘Rest of the World’ (RoW). Yet this is where the greatest demand for construction materials will be in the future, and thus the environment and social impact. In this project, Fishman will develop new methodologies to obtain more data and more accurate data and develop different scenarios for the future. He hopes to identify risks and exchange knowledge between countries to further inform research and policy and where necessary take action.

Adina Maricut-Akbik (Social and Behavioural Sciences, Political Science)

Cultural stereotypes abound within European Union politics and media statements: the lazy Greeks, the tax-dodging Italians, the stingy Dutch, and so on. However, negative stereotypes can cause conflicts between governments, feed Euroscepticism among voters and lead to discrimination against citizens or member states. While stereotypes in political rhetoric and reporting have been studied, we know little about their influence on the behaviour of national and EU officials. EUROTYPES will therefore investigate how cultural stereotypes influence collaboration and efficacy in contemporary EU governance.

Carolien Stolte (Humanities, Institute for History)

Is decolonisation a prerequisite for world peace? And if one seeks to achieve both, which of the two takes precedence? What compromises, if any, can be made along the way? The members of the RECONPAX project team will study the ideas of peace activists in four different regions of the decolonising world to shed light on the interplay between local, regional, and global ideas around peace work. Together, they ask: what happens when peace activists from different backgrounds and different traditions of peace work come together in large international organisations for peace? How do such encounters impact their ability to organise? The project’s long timeframe of 1918-1970 ensures that continuities in peace activism across different political constellations can be brought to light.

Kamila Krakowska Rodrigues (Humanities, Centre for the Arts in Society)

Current mainstream discourses on migration and diversity do not reflect contemporary European urbanity. The City Tales project will study the depiction of diversity in the films, performances and (spoken) literature of Afro-European artists in Lisbon and Rotterdam. The aim is to study its transgressive potential and to create opportunities to think differently about migration-related diversity. The artists’ stories will form the basis of a theoretical framework.

Thijs Porck (Humanities, Centre for the Arts in Society)

Many current linguistic theories, modes of literary criticism and editorial and pedagogical practices have their roots in the 19th century.  Investigating this legacy helps to better understand paradigms and institutions that still influence the field today. In the 19th century, Old English poems were claimed as cultural heritage by various non-Anglophone nations, including the Danes, the Germans and the Dutch. These competing nationalistic, cultural appropriations happened against the backdrop of a growing interest in the Old English language and literature across the European continent. This project adds an essential decentralising dynamic to the historiography of Old English studies, by studying the reception of early medieval English in 19th-century continental Europe. The project will reveal new materials, uncover intellectual networks and put forgotten protagonists in the limelight.


Photo: European Union 2018 - Source: EP, Marc Dossmann

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