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Trinity Arts and Humanities Researchers Win Irish Research Council Laureate Awards

29 March 2018 - Three researchers from Trinity Arts and Humanities schools are among thirteen Trinity researchers to have been awarded funding by the first Irish Research Council Laureate Awards programme.

Awards totalling €17.6m to 36 researchers, along with a further €12m to be made available for a second round of awards, were announced on 22 March by Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development, John Halligan, in a total investment in the research sector amounting to €29.6m.

Eighteen early-career researchers received a total of €7m in ‘Starting Laureate’ awards, to enable them to start their own research programmes. A further €10.6m in ‘Consolidator Laureate’ awards was distributed between eighteen mid-career researchers with an established track record, to enable them to progress to the next level. The additional €12m will be made available via an Advanced Grant of up to €1m over four years to senior researchers in Ireland’s higher education and research institutes. The Advanced Grant call will be opened by the Irish Research Council in the coming weeks.

Two Starting Laureate awards and one Consolidator Laureate award went to Trinity Arts and Humanities researchers all of whom are based in the School of Histories and Humanities.

Starter Laureate Awards:

Dr Isabella Jackson, Assistant Professor (Department of History) for her project on Slave-Girls and the Discovery of Female Childhood in Twentieth-Century China.

The project will focus on changing perceptions of childhood in China during the period 1919-59, which saw a decline in the centuries-old practice of poor families selling their daughters to wealthier families, to become unpaid domestic servants with no freedom of movement: slave-girls. Dr Jackson will research the hypothesis that the change in the discourse around child slavery during this period marked a shift from a concept of childhood as a category applying only to boys and the elites to a universal stage of development encompassing girls and the poor. A wide range of sources including government, court and charity archives as well as visual, oral history and literary sources, collected around the world, will inform Dr Jackson’s research over the next four years and the results will have broad implications for the understanding of the history of childhood not just in China but in other non-Western contexts.

Dr Frank Ludlow, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow 2016-2018 at the Trinity Centre for Environmental Humanities, School of Histories and Humanities, for his project on Climates of Conflict in Ancient Babylonia.

Dr Ludlow will explore the links between climatic changes (including drought, flooding and other extreme weather) and patterns of violence and conflict in the Ancient Near East, how climate change may have played a key role in the story of this formative region and era of world history and whether any climate-conflict linkages vary meaningfully through time according to the evolving socioeconomic, political and cultural background. His research will focus on the Fertile Crescent kingdom of Babylonia (south-central Mesopotamia in present-day Iraq) during the final eight centuries BCE, drawing on a wealth of data from textual scholars, linguists and archaeologists to develop a new climatic reconstruction for Babylonia and examine the extent, pathways and context of links between climate change and violence and conflict. The results will advance our understanding of the role of climate in this formative period of history and, importantly, in present Middle Eastern conflicts.

Consolidator Laureate Award:

Dr Immo Warntjes, Ussher Assistant Professor (Department of History, Trinity) for his project The Irish Foundation of Carolingian Europe – the case of calendrical science.

While the formation of Europe as we know it today has generally been attributed to the Carolingian Empire around the pivotal figure of Charlemagne (†814), this project will explore the theory that the intellectual achievements of the periphery of the previous century were instrumental in shaping European history. It will systematically analyse, for the first time, the Irish contribution to the intellectual formation of Europe, on the basis of one subject, computus (calendrical science), making accessible still unknown key texts and conducting a comprehensive analysis of the computistical manuscript composed between c. 600 and 900 in key areas of Irish influence.

There will be three main elements: (i) edition, translation, and commentary of the two most important texts, the Computus Einsidlensis and Dicuil’s Liber de astronomia, with the aim of defining Irish diagnostic features (‘objects’); (ii) a newly developed digital ‘Object Based Catalogue’ of computistical manuscripts which will make it possible to trace the transmission of Irish ideas (the ‘objects’) and reconstruct continental networks of Irish thought; and (iii) a publication synthesizing the findings and defining the Irish contribution to every aspect of this discipline. Overall, the project has the potential to rewrite the intellectual history of early medieval Europe, and to securely define and contextualise the achievements of the Irish ‘Golden Age’.

The Irish Research Council Laureate Awards were introduced this year to support exceptional researchers in conducting frontier basic research that pushes the boundaries of our current knowledge. They are available to all disciplines beyond postdoctoral level at the early and mid-stages of researchers’ careers. Successful applicants receive funding to conduct ground-breaking research in the Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, and the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

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