Amidst the global pandemic, research continues across the arts, humanities and social sciences. IASH is delighted to celebrate four recent Fellows who have each been awarded one of the most prestigious awards in academia, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship. Many of their projects lead directly from the work they carried out in Edinburgh, highlighting the important role of Institutes of Advanced Study in nurturing the careers of scholars at all stages. The continuing success of our Fellows is always a cause for celebration, especially in turbulent times.
The Fellows and their projects are:
Dr Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko
Dr Abrahms-Kavunenko will begin a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship entitled Residue: The Recalcitrant Materiality of Blessings in June 2020 at the University of Copenhagen within the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies. The project will demonstrate how the imperishable materials, from which Buddhist ritual items are now predominantly made, are transforming Buddhist praxis in the contemporary period. Utilising the ethnographic methodology of ‘following the thing’, it will trace the social lives of Mongolian Buddhist ritual items from the doubts that surround their efficacy at purchase, to their troublesome persistence after use. It will highlight the dynamic by which Buddhist purification rituals can generate ecological and spiritual pollution. Utilizing theories from Anthropology, Buddhist Studies, Discard Studies and interdisciplinary studies exploring human life in the Anthropocene, this project will generate a robust theoretical framework to demonstrate how the material properties of ritual items, rather than being incidental to their use and conception, are integral to Mongolian Buddhist beliefs and practices. It will provide new insights into the generation and treatment of discarded items, drawing attention to the contemporary problems that industrial-scale consumption patterns are producing in Asia and around the world. In 2020, she held an IASH-SSPS Research Fellowship for her project, Materializing Prosperity: Doubt, Potency, and Economic Inequality in Ulaanbaatar, which examined how attempts to alter one’s economic fortunes through religious rituals influence broader economic behaviours and attitudes in Ulaanbaatar.
Dr Jarita Holbrook
Dr Holbrook's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship project, titled ASTROMOVES: A Qualitative Study of the Career Decisions of Astrophysicists: Relocation, Life-Work Balance, and Reputations, builds upon her 2020 IASH-SSPS Research Fellowship, which focused on the careers of astrophysicists circulating to and through the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. Using interview-based inquiry, Dr Holbrook's research seeks to quantify the role of intersectional identities in the career decision-making process, as well as the social-cultural role of institutional reputations. ASTROMOVES has a European focus - astrophysicists circulating from, to and through Europe - and seeks to include the broadest spectrum of the non-traditional and the underrepresented. Dr Holbrook is a former associate professor of physics & astronomy at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, and will move to the University of Edinburgh's Department of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies in June 2020.
Dr David McOmish
Dr McOmish's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship project within the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage in Ca' Foscari University of Venice is titled European Networks and the New Sciences in Edinburgh (ENNSE). It will explore how the intellectual culture of the Venetian Republic and Rome shaped the development of scientific knowledge in 17th-century Britain. It will offer a detailed textual, philosophical, and bibliographical study of a large unpublished manuscript of lecture notes and commentary on natural philosophy, astronomy, and mathematics, which was the main teaching manual in cosmology and mathematics at the University of Edinburgh at that time. The project aims to trace the epistemic networks that contributed to the transformation of university education in the early-middle 17th century at what would become the centre of Britain's Enlightenment culture. Dr McOmish will carry out his research with Prof. Pietro Omodeo. In 2019-20, he held a Library Fellowship at IASH for his project Mapping Dk.7.29: the unknown source of teaching in the new sciences at Edinburgh University in the 17th Century, exploring some of the materials that will make up the ENNSE project.
Professor Francesca Saggini
Professor Saggini will undertake a two-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh from January 2021. The fellowship research project aims to restore the cultural depth to Frances Burney's small tragic production that has been lost over time. By using digital methods alongside literary analysis, she intends to construct an expanding multimedia ecology for Burney’s tragedies - a capacious mediascape that aspires to reproduce, through contemporary tools and channels of communication, the Romantic theatre experience. Professor Saggini is Professor of English Literature at Università degli Studi della Tuscia (Viterbo). She is the author of, among others, The Gothic Novel and the Stage: Romantic Appropriations (2015), and Backstage in the Novel: Frances Burney and the Theater Arts (2012). In 2019, she held a Visiting Research Fellowship at IASH where her project, Frances Burney and the Muses, explored the connection between Burney and the “muses,” a metaphor for the arts and for the feminine creative process.