The only Polish project in the final of the ERC competition for public engagement in research

The Polish archaeological research project in Old Dongolia, Sudan, was the only one in the final of the European Research Council (ERC) competition for public engagement in research. This is a project of the Center for Mediterranean Archeology of the University of Warsaw.

I’m talking about the ERC Starting Grant UMMA project, led by Dr. hab. Arthur Obłuski. He participates in the “Public Engagement with Research Award” competition in the category inspire – audience outreach. The other two categories are Involved – citizen science and Influence – media and policy. The Poles did not qualify for the final in either of the other two categories.

The award is presented to ERC grant winners who have demonstrated excellence in involving non-academic communities in their projects.

The prize pool will also include the Audience Award, which will be determined by voting on social media – this will last until the day of the ceremony, with the winner to be announced on July 14 this year. during the three main award ceremonies.

The ERC-funded project by Dr. hab. Artur Obłuskiego “UMMA – Urban metamorphosis of the community of a medieval African capital” is realized in Old Dongola, Sudan.

“Old Dongola, with the remains of beautiful churches, monasteries with the world’s largest collection of medieval paintings, or the oldest surviving mosque in this part of Africa and monumental tombs of Muslim missionaries, is an important part of the cultural heritage of the This potential should serve not only the archaeologists who lead their excavations, but above all the local communities and, more generally, Sudanese society “- explained Dr. Obłuski quoted in the communication to Science in Poland.

He added that the team, together with local communities, as well as local and regional governments and central authorities, initiated activities aimed at a strategic approach to the heritage preserved at this site.

“So that, apart from their splendor, our hosts also have more tangible benefits, for example economic benefits as part of sustainable development, the profits of which go to local communities, not to big corporations. Recall that Sudan is the 8th poorest country in the world” – emphasized the project manager.

The announcement stated that one of the elements of Dr. hab. Obłuski, also director of CAŚ UW, will introduce a new research strategy in this research center. It is about working with local communities for archaeology, heritage and sustainable development.

It added that this is an approach that aims to promote rapprochement between scientists and people in the regions where research is being conducted. It also aims to “embed the results of archaeological works in their natural social and geographical context.”

As archaeologists explain, the implementation of this strategy in research in Dongolia is coordinated by Dr. Tomomi Fushiya, who specializes in collaborative archeology (or engaging archaeology) and has been working on similar projects in Sudan for years.

Obłuski and Fushiya emphasize that work on an archaeological project should be two-way, taking into account the local point of view and traditional knowledge of cultural heritage. Such a participatory, engaging approach to contemporary societies provides the opportunity for true mutual cooperation and can contribute to the decolonization of the methods used in archeology in Sudan.

The public can vote for the project here:

More information about the competition and additional information about the other finalists is available on the ERC website:

PAP – Science in Poland

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