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2015 Press Releases

Dr James Kapalo awarded ERC grant

10 Dec 2015
Dr James Kapalo (pictured) has been awarded a €990,000 grant for his project Hidden Galleries.

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a Starting Grant to Dr James Kapalo, a lecturer in the Study of Religions Department at University College Cork. 

Dr Kapalo has been awarded a €990,000 grant for his project Hidden Galleries. This is the second such award to be made to UCC’s College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences since the inception of the ERC in 2007.

The project explores the communist-era secret police archives in Central and Eastern Europe to uncover the creative ways in which ordinary members of religious minorities resisted both communism and fascism in the twentieth century.

Hidden Galleries questions the negative assumptions about religious minorities that are still prevalent in some European societies and examines the unintended consequences of state policies introduced to eliminate religion from the public sphere in innovative ways by re-introducing and exhibiting this material to communities involved in the project.

The project, which will run for four years, will include four doctoral and postdoctoral researchers working alongside Dr Kapalo.

This project is especially significant for Ireland as it will be based in the only non-confessional and non-theological Study of Religions Department in any of the Irish universities, the result of UCC’s visionary engagement with the significant and changing role of research and education on religions in the 21st century.

On welcoming the news from the ERC, Dr Kapalo highlighted the significance of the project: “I was absolutely delighted on hearing the news as this project will give me the opportunity to work on important historical and social questions that are very close to my heart.

“In the current international climate it is important that as Europeans we reflect deeply on Europe’s historical experience of extreme ideologies, whether political or religious, and the profound impact they have on ordinary lives.”

Professor Anita Maguire, Vice-President for Research and Innovation, UCC, welcomed the announcement on behalf of the University. “This is wonderful news for Dr Kapalo, for the Department of the Study of Religions, for the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, and for UCC.”

“Securing an ERC award is not only a “gold-standard” indicator of the quality and excellence of the research, but also of the outstanding talent and dedication of James and his colleagues. The insights and knowledge that will emerge from this important project will benefit the future of Irish and European, and indeed global citizens. UCC is committed to building on this tremendous success and supporting our research community, across all disciplines, to compete in the global arena of the ERC.”

Professor Patrick O’Donovan, Head of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, congratulated Dr Kapalo on the news: “We are absolutely delighted to hear of James Kapalo’s well-deserved success. This is a terrific project which confirms the excellent standing of the Department of the Study of Religions.

“I am very grateful to all of those in the College and the University who worked with James in bringing his application to fruition — we are committed to supporting exactly the kind of creative and challenging work which it is the mission of the European Research Council to fund, and I hope that my many talented colleagues will be encouraged by James’s success.”

The European Research Council (ERC) today announced the awarding of its Starting Grants to 291 early-career researchers. More:

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