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Alexander von Humboldt professorship in Germany: ANR congratulates Elisabeth Décultot

Elisabeth Décultot, a Germanist specialising in German aesthetics of the 18th-20th centuries, has been awarded a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt professorship at Halle University in Germany. Research Director at the CNRS, she also coordinated the Franco-German project in humanities and social sciences entitled Aisthesis, co-funded by the ANR and the German Research Foundation DFG from 2009 to 2013. Let us provide some background on this major distinction following on from her ANR-funded work.

This international prize, awarded for the past seven years by the German Alexander von Humboldt foundation, is Germany's most richly endowed. This is the first time the prize has been awarded to a Germanist, and what's more, a researcher from a French scientific institution.

On receiving the award, Elisabeth Décultot was particularly eager to thank the CNRS, which she joined as a researcher in 1996, but also the ANR and DFG, which provided joint funding from 2009 to 2013 for a Franco-German project she co-directed, and which enabled her to build close relations with a number of German researchers and research centres. The project, entitled Aisthesis, focuses on the aesthetics and theory of 18th century art from a Franco-German perspective. How does sensory perception work? How does art contribute to the development of the sensory faculty and education in humans in general? These were the questions raised by this international study, analysing exchanges connecting the traditions of the two countries in this field. Bringing together researchers specialising in aesthetics, literature, philosophy and art history, this interdisciplinary project also led to fruitful partnerships with Wisconsin University in the US and Montreal University in Canada.

Incorporated at Halle University, Dr Décultot's Alexander von Humboldt professorship will benefit from €3.5 million, enabling her to carry out a new research programme on scholarly practices and European exchanges in modern and contemporary times (17th-19th centuries). This programme will be both a continuation and an extension of her earlier work, and will bring together a dozen people whose work is funded by the prize and partners funded by Halle University. In addition to her research and teaching, Dr Décultot will also co-direct the Interdisciplinary Research Centre on European Enlightenment (IZEA) installed at Halle University.

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The Alexander von Humboldt foundation is a German foundation based in Bonn that serves to promote international cooperation in scientific research, particularly by facilitating journeys by foreign researchers to Germany and supporting the resulting scientific contacts. The foundation awards a number of prix to world-renowned scientists. These include the Humboldt professorship (Alexander von Humboldt-Professur), the most prestigious research prize in Germany. The researchers chosen are rewarded funding to conduct their research at a German university. This research prize is awarded by the foundation and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF. It is exclusively for researchers working outside Germany, but may be awarded to all nationalities and in all disciplines.

Launched yearly since 2007, the Franco-German ANR-DFG programme in social sciences and humanities aims to support collaborative research projects conducted jointly by French and German teams. The maximum duration of these projects is 3 years. The ANR finances the French teams' expenses and DFG finances those of the German teams. The average funding per project is approximately €220,000 for French partners and €300,000 for German partners. Open to all fields of humanities and social sciences, it plays a key role in collaborative research between the two countries. The programme contributes hugely to building the European Research Area in humanities and social sciences, in parallel and in addition to the multilateral social sciences programme ORA that it preceded by three years and which the ANR and DFG have spearheaded.

ANR-DFG programme in social sciences and humanities – Key figures

  • 130 Franco-German projects co-funded since 2007
  • ANR allocation: €32.9 million

Photo: Uni Halle / Maike Glöckner