ERC projects

The following research projects of the Faculty of Arts are fun­ded by the European Research Council:
Digital Grammar of Greek Documentary Papyri

The aim of the PapyGreek project is to transform the existing digital corpus of Greek documentary papyri so that it yields to computational linguistic methods. This transformation project serves Greek and general historical linguistics, for whom the papyrological material has so far been very difficult to utilize. After the transformation process we can study the linguistic variations in the papyrological material, which again leads to more precise knowledge on the developments of the Greek language.

The PapyGreek project runs from 2018 to 2023 and is led by Marja Vierros.

Natural Language Understanding with Cross-lingual Grounding

The success of modern intelligent systems is the ability to learn from data. The goal of the project is to develop models for natural language understanding trained on implicit information given by large collections of human translations. We will apply massively parallel data sets of over a thousand languages to acquire language-independent meaning representations that can be used for reasoning with natural languages and for multilingual neural machine translation.

The Found in Translation project runs from 2018 to 2023 and is led by Jörg Tiedemann.

The Gödel Enigma

Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorems of 1931 are among the most iconic scientific achievements of the 20th century. Gödel's results led to the development of formal languages and algorithmic computability, upon which the first programming languages and computers were built two decades later. There are still several thousand pages of notes of this remarkable figure in the history of logic, left almost completely untouched, as they were written in an obsolete German stenographic script called Gabelsberger. The central aim of our project is to study these unpublished materials and make them available to future generations of logicians and philosophers.

The Gödel Enigma project runs from 2018 to 2023 and is led by Jan von Plato.

Gu­lag Echoes in the "mul­ti­cul­tural prison"

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the communist successor states set about reforming their criminal-justice systems, including prisons, to bring them into line with international and European norms. However, all to a lesser or greater extent still have legacies of the system gestated in the Soviet gulag and exported to East-Central Europe after WWII. These may include the internal organisation of penal space, a collectivist approach to prisoner management, penal labour and, as in the Russian case, a geographical distribution of the penal estate that results in prisoners being sent excessively long distances to serve their sentences. The project will excavate how these legacies interact with other forces, including official and popular discourses, formal policy and individual life histories, to transform, confirm and suppress the ethnic self-identification of prisoners.

The Gulag Echoes project runs from 2018 to 2023 and is led by Judith Pallot.

Linguistic Adaptation

This project aims to combine typological and sociolinguistic approaches to language variation. Typological methods are applied to researching complexity of language structures but also to comparing sociolinguistic environments to one another. These innovations enable transforming rich sociolinguistic data to a typology of speech communities and to research if language structures adapt to the sociolinguistic environment in which they are and have been spoken.

The Linguistic Adaptation project runs from 2019 to 2023 and is led by Kaius Sinnemäki.

Vocal Articulations of Parliamentary Identity and Empire

What did politicians sound like before they were on the radio and television? The fascination with politicians’ vocal characteristics and quirks is often connected to the rise of audio-visual media. But in the age of the printed press, political representatives also had to ‘speak well’ – without recourse to amplification. Historians and linguists have provided sophisticated understandings of the discursive and aesthetic aspects of politicians’ language, but have largely ignored the importance of the acoustic character of their speech. The project studies how vocal performances in parliament have influenced the course of political careers and political decision making in the 19th century.

The Vocal Articulations of Parliamentary Identity and Empire project runs from 2018 to 2023 and is led by Josephine Hoegaerts.

The Yamnaya Impact on Prehistoric Europe

The Yamnaya Impact project is an international and interdisciplinary effort to understand the massive changes taking place in Europe some 5000 years ago, with its reverberations still visible today when it comes to genetic ancestry, social organisation, and European languages. The project first and foremost deals with the Yamnaya and here the western end of its huge distribution area in the steppe landscapes of current-day countries of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary, where also field studies and sample collections will be conducted. The main research objectives address issues such as the funerary archaeology of the Yamnaya kurgans and their material culture; exchange and interaction pattern; physical appearance and population dynamics; mobility, diet, occupation and lifestyle; interplay with the environment; as well as the nature of the wider Yamnaya Impact. Here particularly the transmission of ideas, innovations, customs and genes to regions further to the west and northwest, and thus also the emergence and expansion of the Corded Ware and Bell Beaker complexes, lies in our focus.

The Yamnaya Impact project runs from 2019 to 2024 and is led by Volker Heyd.

Animals Make Identities

The Animals Make Identities: The Social Bioarchaeology of Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic Cemeteries in North-East Europe (AMI) project investigates social links between humans and animals in hunter-gatherer burial sites in North-East Europe, c. 9000–7500 years ago, and aims to understand the social identities of the deceased. The research material derives from almost 300 graves from eight cemeteries in North-East Europe and includes, for example, a unique site in Russia.

The Animals Make Identities project runs from 2020 to 2025 and is led by Kristiina Mannermaa.

Medical Electricity, Embodied Experiences, and Knowledge Construction in Europe and the Atlantic World, c. 1740–1840

The project Medical Electricity, Embodied Experiences, and Knowledge Construction in Europe and the Atlantic World, c.1740–1840 (ELBOW) uses medical electricity as a window into examining not simply how scientific knowledge was constructed in the long eighteenth century – but more specifically, into the role of embodied experience in this process.

The ELBOW project runs from 2022 to 2027 and is led by Soile Ylivuori.

Algorithmic Governance – A Public Perspective

In our digitalising world, algorithmic systems are widely used in public governance. Examples range from parking enforcement to criminal sentencing. Despite well-known deficiencies and biases in human decision-making, perceived legitimacy of algorithmic governance increases when humans are present in some capacity (so-called 'human-in-the-loop' systems).

Project aims to

  • Explain why ‘humans-in-the-loop’ matter for governance to be considered legitimate;
  • Understand how legitimacy perceptions are shaped and changed in the minds of individuals.

The Algorithmic Governance – A Public Perspective project runs from 2024 to 2028 and is led by Daria Gritsenko.

A Foundation for Empirical Multimodality Research

A Foundation for Empirical Multimodality Research (FOUNDATIONS) investigates the way human communication and interaction rely on intentional combinations of multiple modes of expression.

The project develops new methods for empirical research on multimodality that leverage crowdsourcing and neuro-symbolic artificial intelligence. Crowdsourcing is used to produce larger datasets, whereas neuro-symbolic AI is used to synthesise the human insights gained through crowdsourcing with output from AI models. The new datasets and methods enable the critical examination of key concepts of multimodality research. The project data include textbooks, news broadcasts and social media videos.

A Foundation for Empirical Multimodality Research (FOUNDATIONS) runs from 2024 to 2029 and is led by Tuomo Hiippala.