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DKK 20 million jackpot for Humanities projects

Humanities at UCPH gets financial boost from the Velux Foundation's treasury for four very different projects that all help achieve a sustainable society based on knowledge

Four humanities research projects have each received DKK 4.8 to 5.9 million. The researchers on the projects are all working at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Copenhagen.

The Velux Foundation has found the projects so interesting that it has chosen to support them with DKK 20 million. The aim of the Velux Foundation is to promote an informed and sustainable society based on knowledge.

The projects cover a wide range within the humanities field. One is about the medieval Danish texts stored in a Roskilde monastery, while another will answer the question of how a minority people in western China in the 20th and 21st century uses textual strategies to establish their self-understanding.

There is also a third project on the significance of new media images in understanding the world’s conflicts, and a fourth on international corporations’ use of video conferences, and what professionals in government institutions can learn from the private sector.

New digital images of war also affect the conflicts:

The project about the conflicts is about finding out how Facebook, the rest of the internet, and mobile phones have profoundly changed by the way we receive images from the world’s conflict zones. They have changed the descriptions coming out of war zones.

The research of Mette Mortensen, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, is to find out how.

Associate Professor Mette Mortensen

The media, for instance, no longer hold a monopoly on the image coverage when activists, insurgents, terrorists and soldiers take photos and videos and distribute them worldwide immediately via social media. At the same time, authorities can no longer censor images to the same extent as before.

The new more uncontrollable stream of images can change the actual conflicts themselves. The pictures can contribute by shaping, de-escalating or escalating conflicts – or perhaps even creating new ones. Mette Mortensen’s project is called ‘Images of Conflict, Conflicting Images’ and receives DKK 5,609,578 kroner from the Velux Foundation.

Turkish-speaking people have to assert their identity in China:

The project on China is about how the Uighurs, Turkish-speaking Muslims in the Xinjiang region of western China, have used textual strategies to create and maintain their own identity.

Associate Professor Ildiko Beller-Hann, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, is researching this in conjunction with three other researchers. It is an interdisciplinary project in history, anthropology and literature.

Associate Professor Ildiko Beller-Hann

The texts are written by various elite groups among the Uighurs with the aim of asserting themselves as an independent ethno-religious group in the 20th and 21st century in relation to China. The Uighurs are officially recognized by the Chinese state, but the state is pushing to integrate the Uighurs into Chinese society.

The research team at the Faculty of Humanities is using three different texts – one from Uighur local history, one from fiction and one from local ethnography recorded in the period from 1980 to the 2010s. They will furthermore use a fourth text consisting of 150 manuscripts from Islamic courts from 1912 to 1949.

The project is called ‘Between homogenization and fragmentation’ and receives 4,775,283 kroner from the Velux Foundation.

Medieval texts get new digital text archive at UCPH

How many of you are aware that the St. Clara monastery in Roskilde at one time had the largest monastery archive in Denmark with more than 350 preserved title deeds from the period 1253-1551? They are public documents from the Middle Ages with a legal content.

The title deeds are held today at the Arnamagnæan manuscript collection at the University of Copenhagen, but only in writing, and Associate Professor Anne Mette Hansen, Department of Nordic Research is to set up an interactive digital version of them.

Associate Professor Anne Mette Hansen

The project is to lead to new methodological insights in dating and locating Danish medieval texts – including identifying the people who have written the texts.

Anne Mette Hansen’s project is called ‘Writing and text in time and space’ and receives DKK 5,882,097 from the Velux Foundation.

International companies’ experiences with videoconferencing:

International companies have for many years made use of video conferencing, and the meeting format is now moving into the public sector.

Professor Mie Femø Nielsen, Department of Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics, is heading a team that is researching the challenges and constraints that arise in meetings between people via video conferences.

In the project ‘Video-mediated interaction in professional environments’ her team will film authentic video conferences. Their goal is to find out how to optimize the video conference format, so international staff can better solve common tasks. At the same time, they want to find out what professional users of video conferences in public institutions can learn from private corporations with regard to video meetings.

The team’s goal is, in addition to this, to find out how professional users of video conferencing quickly can build trust in another human being that they never get to meet in physical space.

The project receives DKK 5,935,403 kroner from the Velux Foundation.