Explore UCD

UCD Home >

UCD researchers awarded €4m in ERC grants for History and Gender Studies projects

Posted 31 January 2023

The (opens in a new window)European Research Council (ERC) has awarded €4 million to two researchers at (opens in a new window)University College Dublin to pursue groundbreaking research in areas of history and gender studies. 

Professor (opens in a new window)Aisling Swaine, from the UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, and Dr (opens in a new window)Irial Glynn, from the UCD School of History, each have received €2m, and were among 321 researchers across Europe announced as the 2022 recipients of the ERC’s Consolidator Grants.

Worth €657m, these grants will create around 1,950 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, and other staff at the host institutions. 

“ERC Consolidator grants support researchers at a crucial time of their careers, strengthening their independence, reinforcing their teams and helping them establish themselves as leaders in their fields,” said ERC President Professor Maria Leptin.

“And this backing above all gives them a chance to pursue their scientific dreams.”

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, added that the pioneering research funded under the grants would “lay the groundwork for innovation and, ultimately, for growth and economic competitiveness in Europe.”

Dr (opens in a new window)Irial Glynn, Assistant Professor at UCD School of History, received funding for his study entitled ‘SOS’ - which will investigate the history of boat refugees since the 1940s, asking who hinders and who helps asylum seekers on their journeys, and why.

In 2015, over one million refugees sailed across the Mediterranean, this was not the first time that people took to the seas in search of asylum. During the 1940s, Jewish boat refugees voyaged across the Mediterranean; in the 1970s and 1980s, Vietnamese boat people traversed the South China Sea; in the 1980s and 1990s, Cubans and Haitians tried to navigate the Caribbean to reach the US; and in the 1990s and 2000s, boat refugees sailed across the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and the Mediterranean in an attempt to reach Australia, Yemen, and Europe. Yet references to the past are almost non-existent in contemporary discussions. 

“Anyone following the news lately knows that the issue of boat refugees is an urgent topic,” said Dr Glynn.

“This ERC Consolidator grant will make it possible to compare the journeys, experiences and reception of boat refugees since the 1940s. The project will draw on oral and written testimonies of boat refugees to articulate their experience and to place them at the heart of the analysis. States still dominate histories of refugees. ‘SOS’ will challenge this by humanising the refugee journey and, in doing so, show how messy and complicated refugeehood was and still is.”

The study will address several key questions, for instance, how did ethnicity, class, gender, religion, sexuality and capital influence what took place? The team will interview refugees and officials, and examine archives and media coverage, to produce the first global history of boat refugees. 

Professor (opens in a new window)Aisling Swaine, Professor of Gender Studies at UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice is leading on ‘GENCOERCTRL’, a project examining gender, conflict and coercive control.

To date, coercive control has received little scholarly attention as a lens to understand women’s experiences of conflict. Professor Swaine’s project will address this gap. 

By developing new methodological approaches to understanding this gendered phenomenon, and speaking with women across Colombia, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka, ‘GENCOERCTRL’ will uncover the lived experience and nature of coercive control in conflict settings. 

“This funding will push the boundaries of what we, as researchers, currently understand to characterise women’s experiences of armed conflict,” Professor Swaine said.

“There is so much more to conflict-related gendered harm than physical violence. This grant will allow us to uncover the more subtle ways that armed conflict dynamics impact women. 

“By centring women’s own articulation of their lived experience of conflict, the project will advance not just better understanding of gendered harm, but also pathways towards better responses.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie