IRC Funding awarded to HI Members

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Two members of the Humanities Institute were successful in obtaining funding from the Irish Research Council recently:

Professor John Brannigan, UCD School of English, Drama and Film and his collaborator Professor Tasman Crowe, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Sciences were awarded €220,000 for their project:

The Cultural Value of Coastlines: Assessing the Cultural Influences and Impacts of Ecosystem Change on the Irish Sea Coasts

Project Description:

The Cultural Value of Coastlines is a two-year interdisciplinary research project funded by an award of €220,000 from the Irish Research Council to investigate the cultural influences and impacts of ecosystem change on the Irish Sea coasts. The project team consists of the two co-directors and two postdoctoral fellows, and involves archival and field research, as well as knowledge exchange with coastal communities.

The project will address three key research questions:
• How do coastal and marine environments contribute cultural benefits to coastal communities?
• How is the cultural value of coastal and marine environments dependent upon ecosystem functions and conditions, and what changes have happened and might happen to this relationship?
• How can the cultural benefits of coastal and maritime environments be assessed effectively so as to contribute directly to marine spatial planning, cultural heritage management, and sustainability governance?

Project Context:
Coasts are dynamic social-ecological systems. They are at the interface of global climate challenges (e.g. increased intensity of storm events and sea level rise) and global societal challenges (e.g. migration and energy production). The role of culture (aesthetics, heritage, sense of place and identity) in determining human uses and values of the sea and coastlines, and the effects upon culture of changes to marine and coastal environments, are major gaps in current social-ecological research. This project brings together environmental humanities, ecological sciences, and ecosystem assessment, together with stakeholder groups, to evaluate and understand the cultural and historical value of the sea and coastlines to coastal communities in the Irish Sea.

The Cultural Value of Coastlines builds upon collaboration between UCD Humanities Institute, UCD Earth Institute, and the National Maritime Museum of Ireland over several years.
To listen to our free podcast series on the cultures, histories and ecologies of the sea and coasts, please visit the links below:
Women and the Sea: Culture, History, Industry, Science
The Irish Sea: History, Culture, Ecology
The Literatures and Cultures of the Irish Sea


Professor Gerardine Meaney of the UCD School of English, Drama and Film has been awarded an Irish Research Council New Horizons Interdisciplinary Award for a collaborative project with Dr Derek Greene (UCD Insight), Dr Karen Wade (HI postdoctoral researcher) and Dr Cormac O'Brien (School of English, Drama and Film), entitled:

Contagion, Biopolitics and Migration in European Cultural Memory: using large scale historical datasets to understand contemporary attitudes and improve public health outcomes.

This project seeks to illuminate culturally and historically specific understandings of disease that appear within a collection of 49,000 literary works that have been digitised by the British Library, published between the 1500s and the early 20th century.  By applying topic modeling techniques to this corpus, we hope to identify and track key contemporary trends pertaining to illness and contagion, and interpret these findings with particular reference to current and historical debates surrounding biopolitics, medical culture and migration. As well as engaging with current debates in digital humanities in relation to how topic modeling and other "big data" methodologies may be used to further our understanding of literature, this project will consider the following questions: can data analytics help us understand and change the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies, diseases and identities? How much continuity exists between nineteenth century biopolitics and contemporary attitudes? What problems does this persistence pose for major social challenges in the areas of public health, prevention and migration, and how can these be addressed?

The value of the award is €211,000.