Award

Justyna Olko secures nearly €2 million for five-year project

15.2.2021 | The ethnologist, historian, and sociolinguist will explore multilingual communities across four continents.
Prof Jystyna Olko
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(© Michal Jędrak, Archiwum FNP)


Prof Jystyna Olko

Professor Justyna Olko is one of only three Polish researchers to win the prestigious Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC), announced December 9th 2020. The grant is awarded only to senior, outstanding scientists. In Prof Olko’s case, the grant will go towards a five-year-project on local multilingualism.

Although she is a specialist in the Nahua language and culture, Prof Olko’s new project will be looking beyond Mesoamerica. Focused on understanding the mechanisms behind multilingualism, specifically the emergence, continuity and loss of it within a geographical and cultural area, she is planning to study a series of multilingual hotspots in Central-Eastern Europe, Mesoamerica, South Africa and the Archipelago of Vanuatu in the Pacific.

“We are planning to explain how and why local multilingualism emerges, what contributes to its continuity, why it erodes, and how it can re-emerge. [The project] will address not only essential gaps in the state of knowledge but also significant questions about the past and the present of human development,” Prof Olko says in a press release.

Prof Olko currently holds the role as Director of the Centre for Research Practice in Cultural Continuity within the “Artes Liberales” Faculty at the University of Warsaw, where she did her initial academic training. During her career, she has also spent significant time in the United States as a post-doctoral and visiting fellow at Yale University, the University of Utah, Brown University, University of Oregon and Harvard University.

The Consolidator Grant is incredibly competitive: out of over 2,500 applications submitted in 2020, only 327 scientists were awarded funding. This is the second time Prof Olko secures a grant from the ERC, after she won an ERC Starting Grant in 2012.*   (© AcademiaNet)
*Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article stated, “Prof Olko is the first Polish scholar to receive an ERC grant more than once”. This is not correct. We have updated the article accordingly.

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