UCL News


UCL Anthropology to coordinate Marie Curie scholarships

8 June 2006

UCL Anthropology has secured a substantial Marie Curie SocAnth grant to coordinate a programme to develop anthropology as a discipline in Eastern Europe.

€1.9m, the largest grant currently awarded to the department - and a considerable sum for a 'low-cost' discipline such as anthropology - will be paid over five years to fund doctoral fellowships. UCL is the only UK university to receive this grant.

Dr Michael Stewart, who is supervising a PhD student from Romania under the scheme, said: "Anthropology has had a bit of an odd history. In many Eastern European countries during the Cold War, social anthropology didn't really exist as a discipline - all that was taught under the rubric of social science was Marxism-Leninism. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has started to take root again, but only patchily."

The Marie Curie SocAnth scheme provides scholarships covering research training and fieldwork to doctoral students from former Communist states in Eastern Europe to help to remedy this disparity. Dr Stewart highlights another issue: "Traditionally, anthropologists from the old imperial countries would travel abroad - usually to the colonies - to conduct their work, whereas those from other countries had a local focus. This is partly to do with resources and partly to do with intellectual history. The Marie Curie grants allow for doctoral students to conduct their work wherever they need to be. This means that the discipline can become truly global."

Marie Curie SocAnth is part of Marie Curie Actions, a European Union programme designed to aid the development and transfer of research competencies, widen researchers' career prospects and promote excellence in European research. Working across borders and institutions provides a fruitful exchange of expertise, which is valuable for Western European countries as well for former Soviet states. Marie Curie SocAnth is providing seven fully funded PhD fellowships in both 2006 and 2007 for students to study at one of the scheme's partner institutions - UCL and Goldsmiths in London, the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany, the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania.