Dace Dzenovska awarded ERC grant for research on emptying towns and villages in Eastern Europe

Published 10 December 2019 / By Dace Dzenovska

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How will climate change shape the Earth’s surface? What are the long-term health effects of food additives? How can online tools change political advocacy and what does this mean for democracy? These are just some of the questions that researchers from around Europe have proposed to explore, and will now be able to, thanks to newly-awarded EU funding.

The European Research Council today announced the winners of its latest Consolidator Grant competition: 301 top scientists and scholars across Europe. Funding for these researchers, part of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, is worth in total €600 million. With this support, the new grantees will have a chance to build up their teams and have far-reaching impact. COMPAS is delighted to announce that Associate Professor in Anthropology of Migration, Dace Dzenovska is one of these recipients.

Dr. Dzenovska explained why the grant is significant to her:

"I am thrilled to receive the ERC Consolidator Grant for my project on the emptying cities, towns, and villages in Eastern Europe and Russia. For some years now, the global public space has been saturated with images of depopulated Eastern European villages and the ruins of Soviet industrial cities. But there is little understanding of what it means to inhabit—and govern—the settlements that are increasingly abandoned by capital, the state, and people. I see these places as crucial coordinates in the global landscape of capitalism. They are as significant as megacities for understanding how novel forms of economic and political power are remaking the world. This grant will enable me to form a team of scholars that will produce far-reaching analytical insights about global futures on the basis of in-depth ethnographic studies in the former socialist world."

Mariya Gabriel, newly-appointed European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:

"Knowledge developed in these new projects will allow us to understand the challenges we face at a more fundamental level, and may provide us with breakthroughs and innovations that we haven’t even imagined. The EU’s investment in frontier research is an investment in our future, which is why it is so important that we reach an agreement on an ambitious Horizon Europe budget for the next multiannual budget. More available research funding would also allow us to create more opportunities everywhere in the EU - excellence should not be a question of geography."

ERC President Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, whose mandate ends on 31 December after six years in office, commented:

“I have had the immense privilege of seeing thousands of bright minds across our continent receive the trust and backing to go after their most daring ideas. It has been an exhilarating experience through countless meetings with many of them in person, listening to their stories and being inspired by them. As it’s about top frontier research, it comes as no surprise that an overwhelming number of them already made breakthroughs that will continue to contribute greatly to meeting the challenges ahead. As I bid farewell to an organisation that will always remain close to my heart, I am once more highly impressed when I see this latest set of grantees funded by the European Research Council. That the ERC empowers them makes me proud to be European!”

The European Research Council, set up by the EU in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe.

Visit the University of Oxford's Medium to see Dace's photo essay, Emptiness: capitalism after socialism.

Watch this video to hear more about Dace's research.