Meet our ERC grantees 
Research results

European Research Council (ERC) grants support top researchers of any nationality and age who wish to pursue frontier research. The ERC particularly encourages proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries and pioneer ideas addressing new and emerging fields and applications that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches.

Contacts and reservations

The International Research Office is available to provide guidance, information and support in the preparation of project proposals.

Funded projects

Simona Olvieri 

ALiDiM – Arabic Linguistic Discourse in the Making

Classical Arabic is a clear example of how cultural factors influence not only how languages are used but also how they are systematized. To understand how a language functions as a culture-based means of communication, the ALiDiM project centers around a metalinguistic analysis of the standardization process of Classical Arabic, as it has been described by early scholars of the Arabic linguistic tradition. The project will research the formation and development of the Arabic linguistic thinking and the grammar-making of Classical Arabic by examining the linguistic and extralinguistic factors that contributed to these processes, including the role of scholars in the language-making and the influence of other linguistic traditions. By exploring Arabic grammatical and lexicographical sources produced between the 7th and 10th centuries with a text-based approach, the ALiDiM project aims to examine how Classical Arabic was originally described and systematized, highlighting how linguistic literatures can be read as expressions of socio-political instances.

Chiara Bonfiglioli

WO-NAM - Women and Non-Alignment in the Cold War era: biographical and intersectional perspectives

WO-NAM will provide crucial insights into the history of women's participation in the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War era, studying the roles of female leaders, women's movements and women's organizations. It will redefine existing interpretations of Cold War history and historiography by conducting groundbreaking research on the significance of Non-Aligned networks in shaping transnational debates on women's rights within international institutions. WO-NAM will draw on rich and diverse archival collections on women's activism in its focus on the case studies of Yugoslavia, Egypt, Tunisia, India, and Cuba. In taking Non-Aligned women's networks as its vantage point, WO-NAM is the first project to address how female leaders and activists from the Global East and the Global South intervened in a variety of international institutions that were part of, or affiliated to, the United Nations, in order to shape ongoing debates on women's rights, family planning, and development.

Giulia Zanini

PregDaT - Pregnancy Dating Challenges: Technologies and Unequal Geographies of Abortion and Childbirth Care

Pregnancy dating, or the assessment of the duration of the gestation, is considered the most important step in the management of any pregnancy for obstetric and neonatal care. Although considered a standard procedure, pregnancy dating varies greatly in accuracy and methods, and across services and countries, and depends on technologies, resources and skills of those involved. In this process, pregnant people's embodied knowledge is often disregarded as unreliable. Despite bearing major and life-changing consequences, pregnancy dating remains largely unquestioned in the social sciences and in medical and public health literature. This has profound effects on how pregnancy has been theorised and empirically studied as well as on legal provisions and clinical practices. The project transforms existing paradigms of understanding and studying pregnancy and reproduction by unpacking the black box of pregnancy dating, exposing its socio-technical and political components of pregnancy time, and exploring whether and how these generate unequal access to abortion and childbirth.

Matteo Pasquinelli

AIMODELS - The Culture of Algorithmic Models: Advancing the Historical Epistemology of Artificial Intelligence

The project proposes an alternative epistemology of artificial intelligence (AI). It argues that what is at stake in AI is not its similarity to human rationality (anthropomorphism), but its epistemic difference. Rather than speculating in the abstract on whether a machine can "think", the project addresses a historical question: What is the logical and technical form of the current paradigm of AI, machine learning, and what is its origin? The project traces the origins of machine learning back to the invention of algorithmic modelling (more precisely, algorithmic statistical modelling) that took shape in the artificial neural networks research of the mid 1950s, and records that a coherent history and epistemology of this groundbreaking artefact is still missing. Through consolidating a model theory of AI, the research will benefit the reception of AI in general and fields such as digital humanities, scientific computing, robotics, and AI ethics, among others. Ultimately, it will help situate AI in the global horizon of the current technosphere and in the long history of knowledge systems.

Valentina Bonifacio

CowDom - Colonization as domestication: cattle-human relationships in the making of South-American society

Although the influence of cattle-human relationships on society has been an object of study since the beginnings of the anthropological discipline, the study of their entanglement with colonial ideologies and of their influence on South American society is just starting to take shape. Cow-Dom will compare different forms of human-cattle relationships by focusing on opposing relational configurations of the domestication process - feral cattle on the one hand and the so-called racially "improved" cattle on the other - in some of the South American countries with the most intensive cattle production (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay). The project will establish an innovative theoretical framework to analyse cattle-human relationships in a post-colonial context and incorporate experimental research tools such as video making and the collaboration with a contemporary art museum in South America.

Annick Payne

CAncAn Communication in Ancient Anatolia

The project addresses the question of messages, modes and participants in the communication of three Anatolian cultures, Lydians, Luwians and Phrygians, ca. 1200-546 BCE. Living in adjacent territories, they were in contact with one another. The project will be the first to study both internal and external sources from other Ancient Near Eastern and Classical texts together, using a combined semiotic and narratological approach examining text structure, processes of meaning-making, communication and transmission. Texts and their material supports not only generate and exchange meaning, they also preserve information on communication processes in the context of specific realms. Reading these texts with a focus on narrative and discourse will allow a new insight into formative parameters of ancient societies, especially values, cognitive patterns, and the needs and motifs of the participants. This marks a huge shift from traditional, event-based readings towards an analysis of belief and behaviour. The project will be ground-breaking in its application and adaption of concepts from semiotics and narratology, which were developed for the study of the modern world and have never before been applied to the study of these ancient texts. The project will draw a new picture of cultural clusters and their parameters, and provide new data for understanding ancient and modern identities and the potential of cultural differences.

Helen Foxhall Forbes

SSE1K - Science, Society and Environmental Change in the First Millennium CE

The project SSE1K will pioneer an approach which is both multi- and interdisciplinary, centring on these questions: How did humans experience and perceive environmental and climatic variation across the Mediterranean in the first millennium CE, and how did they respond both intellectually and socially to these changing conditions? Financed by an ERC Consolidator Grant, SSE1K addresses issues which have been raised as significant challenges for collaborative study of climate change but have yet to be fully addressed: it will investigate how the circulation of knowledge and adaptability intersect with sustainability and resilience in premodern societies, and how human perceptions and ways of thinking shaped societal, political or religious responses to environmental / climatic change. 

Alessio Rovere

WARMCOASTS - Sea level and extreme waves in the Last Interglacial

Funded by an ERC Starting Grant, the project aims to improve the knowledge on coastal processes related to the last interglacial. This period (117-130 thousand years ago) was the last in geologic history when the climate was warmer than it is today. Thus, it represents a good analogue for understanding how the Earth might respond to further temperature rises. By how much did sea level rise in the last interglacial? Were there rapid sea-level changes? Were there more intense sea storms than we observe today? A team of researchers consisting of geologists and modelers will work to answer these questions, integrating approaches typical of field geology with geologic and hydrodynamic models.

Nicola Prezza

Compressed Indexes for Regular Languages with Applications to Computational Pan-genomics

The research project, financed by an ERC Starting Grant, will develop efficient algorithms and data structures for processing large quantities of highly structured data (labeled graphs and regular languages) in order to accelerate searches inside them. These techniques will find applications in the development of algorithms for finding DNA mutations. As a matter of fact, the differences between the genomes of a population (for example, all human genomes) can be modeled as a (very large) graph: the problem of finding a particular mutation translates to that of finding a path in this graph.

Caterina Tarlazzi

Polyphonic Philosophy: Logic in the Long Twelfth Century (c.1070-1220) for a New Horizon in the History of Philosophy

The project focuses on logical commentaries written in Latin from c. 1070-1220, the fascinating period of schools and discussions from which European universities were then to emerge. Focusing on thirty-five special manuscripts, and taking advantage of a unique corpus of preliminary transcriptions of texts, the research team is interested in the concept of "polyphonic" philosophy we can detect in this material: not the product of a single individual only, but of the interactions of many different "voices" (the authoritative text, the various commentators, and the discussions among contemporary rival commentators).

Roberta Raffaetà

HealthXCross - Remaking Health in a Microbial Planet by Crossing Space, Time, Species and Epistemic Cultures through Data

Microbiome science is popularizing a symbiotic understanding of health and ecology. What microbiome science now knows is that microbes entangle the health of people and environments; what we don’t know is how, in this process, new cultural concepts and practices of health may emerge. This project asks: how does health come to be reconfigured in a world entangled through microbial data? HealthXCross is a multi-sited, comparative ethnographic study of how scientists produce and coordinate knowledge within interdisciplinary platforms that collect, compare and integrate microbial data across time, space and species in order to produce simulations for intervening in both environmental and human health. HealthXCross is an ethnographic inquiry into the implications of the environment as a body - and vice versa - through analysis of the tensions between the emancipatory and the dystopian effects of dissolving boundaries between human bodies and environments. With this aim, my project will examine how these research platforms 1) remake notions of biological diversity through technology by crossing conventional categorizations (space, time, species) and epistemic cultures, 2) create and emerge from the diverse spacetimes of innovations across the global North and the global South and 3) shape new trends in healthcare and health governance. HealthXCross will create a participatory design with scientists, who are among stakeholders in the public discourse about what it means to be human and how to live in an entangled planet. My project will offer timely insights into the interplay between knowledge making and changing health practices in times of profound ecological, socio-technical and economic transition. HealthXCross will dramatically advance anthropological understandings of the contradictory but constitutive aspects of living together and being in relation.

Website: HealthXCross

Jasenka Gudelj

AdriArchCult - Architectural Culture of the Early Modern Eastern Adriatic

Between the 15th and 18th c. the Eastern Adriatic, partitioned between Venetian and Dubrovnik Republics, the Kingdom of Hungary-Croatia and Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, has been politically transformed into a vast archipelago, even mainland coastal towns divided from the hinterland. This process triggered the formation of fluctuating and floating architectural market functioning within a multilingual and multiconfessional context. The aim of the AdriArchCult project is an overall study of the architectural culture of the region, examining its political, religious, cognitive and practical sphere, and thus overcoming the divisions of historiographies in different languages and traditional approaches based on the national or centre/periphery paradigm. The result will be an innovative and dynamic vision of the architectural production of a region that connects the various faces of European culture.

Website: AdriArchCult

Joseph Sanzo

EJCM - Early Jewish and Christian Magical Traditions in Comparison and Contact

This interdisciplinary project will contribute to the study of both Mediterranean magic and Jewish-Christian relations during late antiquity (III–VII CE) by providing the first sustained, comparative analysis of early Jewish and Christian magical texts and objects (e.g., amulets and incantation bowls). In particular, EJCM will focus on the similarities, differences, and contacts between these traditions in five central areas of their magical practices: biblical texts and traditions; sacred names and titles; healing and demonic protection at the interface of literary and material sources; the word-image-material relation; and references to illicit rituals. Accordingly, EJCM will illuminate the dynamics of religious assimilation, cooperation, and differentiation in the everyday lives of ancient Jews and Christians. 

Olga Tribulato

PURA - PURism in Antiquity: Theories of Language in Greek Atticist Lexica and their Legacy

In periods when national or cultural identity is at stake, language is often perceived as decaying or in danger, thus leading to the wish to ‘save’ it from its natural evolution and foreign features. This common phenomenon, known as linguistic purism, finds an example already in antiquity, when the Greeks attempted to bring back post-Classical Greek to the stage represented by Attic, the dialect of Classical Athens, the ideal symbol of their culture. PURA will produce a diachronic study of Greek purist theories and the works which defended them: from 2nd c. AD Greece, through Medieval Byzantium, down to Renaissance Italy. The research team will adopt a multidisciplinary methodology combining linguistics, philology, Byzantine studies and codicology to deliver a novel study of the cultural history and significance of Greek purism.


David Gentilcore

Water-Cultures - The Water Cultures of Italy, 1500-1900

This project, funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, conceptualises a new way of writing history, with water at its core. The Water Cultures concept is based on the synergistic braiding of five key “Streams”: the symbolic beliefs and practices associated with water; the circulation and evolution of knowledge about water and disease and its effects; the water management systems of large cities and demands on them; the changing hydraulic landscape of rural areas; and the occupations of water, exploring the professions and trades associated with water and its delivery and uses. Italy has been chosen as the case study - for its rich archives and social, political and geographical variety - and the 'longue durée' to identify change and continuity.

Enrica De Cian

Enrica De Cian

ENERGYA - Energy use for Adaptation

This project (ERC Starting grant) will explore how our energy needs may evolve in the future facing climate changes, in particular the increase in average temperatures and in extreme events. Furthermore it will evaluate the implications of the energy needs on revenues and inequalities. Recent climate changes will be investigated as well as future climate scenario and data on climate, economics, society will be elaborated. The research will have a global reach and will focus on emerging countries which are facing a challenge with much unknown: India, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico. Enrica De Cian will carry her project leading a team of six international researchers and experts.

Website: EnergyA

Emiliano Fiori

Emiliano Fiori

FLOS – Florilegia Syriaca. The Intercultural Dissemination of Greek Christian Thought in Syriac and Arabic in the First Millennium CE

Between the eighth and the tenth centuries, Christians in Mesopotamia who talked and wrote in an aramaic dialect, Syriac language, had to face an intellectual confrontation with Islam in the Muslim caliphate. On the one hand they referred to Greek Christian texts translated in Syriac, the Florilegia, to preserve and reconfigure Christian thought in the past centuries; on the other they started writing in Arabic as well to debate with Muslim intellectuals but also with other Christians churches and faiths. FLOS will study the Syriac Florilegia for the first time as they were brought to us in old manuscripts from the first millennium, and will investigate how the analysis of Greek Christian thought found in these texts have decisively influenced the content of the interconfessional and interreligious polemic in the first centuries of Islam in the Middle East.

Further information about FLOS on the Participant Portal

Stefano Bonetti

MAGNETIC-SPEED-LIMIT - Understanding the speed limits of magnetism

In the past decade, researchers have been able to observe magnetic dynamics in materials at femtosecond time scales (1 femtosecond = 0.000 000 000 000 001 s). This has opened up the possibility for processing digital information at a much faster rate than today’s, and also consuming much less energy. The understanding of the physics related to this phenomenon is, however, still partial. The recent appearance of two new types of light, broadband terahertz and x-rays generated at free electron lasers, has provided researchers with a whole new set of capabilities to tackle this challenge. This ERC project (Starting Grant) will use these novel techniques to achieve an encompassing view of ultrafast magnetism. The goal is to advance the understanding of the speed limits of magnetism, and to lay the building blocks for the technology of tomorrow.

Further information on the Participant Portal

Pietro Daniel Omodeo

Pietro Daniel Omodeo

EarlyModernCosmology - Institutions and Metaphysics of Cosmology in the Epistemic Networks of Seventeenth-Century Europe

This research endeavor, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant, is a comparative inquiry of early-modern Protestant and Catholic cosmologies in their institutional, political, and ideological settings. Science is seen as a contested field of confessional struggles for cultural hegemony, shaped and transformed through its circulation within international scholarly and academic networks. This comparative inquiry is fundamental for an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of epistemic networks and vice versa their concrete reconstruction provides materials for a better understanding of mechanisms of scientific transactions in general. 

Website: Early Modern Cosmology

Renata Sõukand

Renata Sõukand

DiGe: Ethnobotany of divided generations in the context of centralization

Funded by an ERC Starting Grant, the project's wider aim is to create an advanced understanding of the mechanisms of changes in the popular use of plants as food and medicine. Four case studies will be conducted within ethnic minorities that for shorter or longer periods have been subjected to various influences affecting their plant use. The research team will aim to predict the extent and depth of the changes occurring in the ethnobotanical knowledge and therefore create a platform for further development of education tools aiming to a sustainable maintenance and utilization of local plant resources to support health and well-being of people.

Further information on the Participant Portal

Sabrina Marchetti

Sabrina Marchetti

DomEQUAL: A Global Approach to Paid Domestic Work and Social Inequalities

Thanks to an ERC Starting Grant, the researcher will focus on the relationship between globalization and social inequality, through a study on paid domestic work that will involve nine countries located in three continents. The research will consider working men and women with an important role in society, but who often operate in poor conditions and do not enjoy adequate social protection. The project also aims to identify the most effective global and local actors that can improve their legal framework. DomEQUAL engages three post-doc researchers in Italy, supported by nine experts in the countries involved.

Website: DomEQUAL

Antonio Montefusco

Antonio Montefusco

BIFLOW: Bilingualism in Florentine and Tuscan Works (ca. 1260 - ca. 1416)

The research explores multilingualism in central and northern Italy from the thirteenth century to the beginning of the fifteenth. It will begin with the systematic gathering of texts available in multiple languages and then lead to the construction of the first digital catalogue of these works. This will then facilitate the creation of a map of the multilingual environments in which intellectuals were immersed at the time of Dante. The subject of the study, therefore, is not merely the texts themselves, but also the mindset of mediaeval intellectuals, whose immersion in a multilingual context in some ways parallels our contemporary experience of globalization.

Website: BIFLOW

Marco Sgarbi

Marco Sgarbi

Aristotle in the Italian Vernacular: Rethinking Renaissance and Early-Modern Intellectual History (c. 1400 - c. 1650)

Funded by an ERC Starting grant, this project aims to offer the first detailed and comprehensive study of the vernacular diffusion of Aristotle through a series of analyses of his primary texts. Works that fall within the two main Renaissance fields of speculative philosophy (metaphysics, natural philosophy, mathematics and logic) and civil philosophy (ethics, politics, rhetoric and poetics) will be studied. In light of their respective competencies, two research teams in Venice and at the University of Warwick will each generally focus their investigation on one of these two bodies of work.

Website: Aristotle in the Vernacular

Carlo Barbante

Carlo Barbante

EARLYhumanIMPACT – How long have human activities been affecting the climate system?

Funded by an ERC Advanced grant, this project analyses how human activities, including fossil-fuel burning, are currently altering the global climate system. The research group has pioneered a ground-breaking technique for measuring a globally present molecular marker of biomass burning. The proposed research incorporates continuous ice and lake core climate records from seven continents with parallel histories of fire activity. These fire histories can provide essential insight into the interplay between climate and human activity.

Last update: 24/05/2024