Archive for August, 2011


old but good

Famine, routine et journalisme – par Olivier Gosselain et Stéphane Bastin


sorting charcoal

Today, sorting samples of charcoal to send off to lab for radiocarbon dating.

Our initial investigation at BLaf involved just small-scale test-pitting so it is only worth submitting 3-4 samples this time round, to keep costs down. It is anticipated that one date will tell us a little about when the flooring we uncovered was laid, while another suite of three dates will give us a time depth for the occupation of the site, and check that the sequence runs more or less coherently.

Results by late October.


2012 ERC starter grants

The European Research Council on 20 July opened its fifth call for proposals for the ERC Starting Grants, targeted at early-career (2 to 12 years of post-doctoral experience) researchers of any nationality, working in, or moving to work in, host institutions in Europe.
The total budget for this call amounts to €730 million, an increase of just over 10% from last year. The call will fund 500 to 600 outstanding researchers.
With up to €2 million per grant for up to five  years, the scheme targets researchers  – ERC grants are indeed one of the main EU instruments to address the “brain drain” and to attract and retain the best researchers of any nationality.
The three domain deadlines:
Physical Sciences and Engineering: 12 October 2011
Life Sciences: 9 November 2011
Social Sciences and Humanities: 24 November 2011

15 aug noon

The deadline for applications for the postdoctoral position has now passed and the panel will be starting work on shortlisting now. Thank you to all who applied.

Next year we hope to advertise a PhD Studentship to grow the team further, so please watch this space/subscribe to the blog using the link ’email subscription’ to the right of the screen.

Le délai pour soumettre les dossiers pour considération pour le poste de chercheur postdoctoral est désormais passé. Le jury va maintenant débuter le processus du ‘shortlisting’ . Merci à tous ceux qui ont postulé.

L’année prochaine nous espérons pouvoir offrir une bourse doctorale, afin d’agrandir l’équipe encore plus. Veuillez donc regarder à nouveau cette page. Vous pouvez par exemple utiliser le lien ’email subscription’ à droite sur cet écran.


research in the sahel

The big topic and the big worry at the moment among West Africanist researchers is the security situation  in the Sahel, which has led many organisations and research institutions to cease activities there. The Tuareg rebellions of the 1990s have now been replaced by the threat of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM/AQMI), founded in 2007 and described as a franchise outfit of al Qaeda.

As a result, most European research institutions have stopped active fieldwork in the countries of the Sahel, most especially Mali, Niger and Mauritania.

Obviously, though, the cessation of international, collaborative research will make it difficult for Sahelian colleagues to bring to an international audience the past of their region – and thus the Sahel’s contribution to world history remains little known (see e.g these responses to an event a few years ago: blog and book). These are some of the points made in a recent petition, Non au gel des missions de recherche françaises au Sahel (unfortunately with just 741 signatures so far – add yours):

“[Ce gel] a surtout pour effet déplorable de mettre brutalement un terme aux collaborations engagées et aux relations patiemment construites avec les chercheurs et enseignants-chercheurs de ces pays, dans le cadre de différents programmes scientifiques innovants sur des questions de santé, de lutte contre la pauvreté, de développement durable, de migrations, etc. Elle pénalise avant tout les institutions et les enseignants-chercheurs des pays du Sud, dont l’implication dans ces programmes peut constituer une ouverture importante vers le reste de la communauté scientifique internationale. Elle fait enfin le jeu des groupuscules extrémistes”.

On this see also the interview by Dr Pierre B, director of the Centre d’études des mondes africains of the CNRS), and the report from our UEA colleague Dr Yvan G. So, as researchers from the West shift their research programmes out of the Sahel, local research institutions (here is one example) lose out on international profile and, thus, once again West Africa loses its chance for a say on the global scene. Ironically then AQIM plays into the hands of the eurocentrics.

About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

Please log in often, comment and/or subscribe to keep up to date with what's happening.

Blog Stats

  • 37,419 hits

Recent posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. There will be a special prize for the 50th subscriber

Join 164 other followers


August 2011