CEU 20th Anniversary Postdoctoral Fellowship: To Make Dead Bodies Talk

At the core of human existence, the bio-archaeological heritage in the form of historical human remains can be considered a repository of knowledge about the ways people interact with both the natural and social constructed world. Thus, the dead make their presence felt in a variety of academic, religious, ethical and social contexts all of which have their justifications and contradictions. Human bodies and how they were treated during life and after death are source material for physical anthropology and a challenge for scholars and the societies they operate in. Physical anthropological research and policies toward bio-archaeological heritage have themselves a variety of social and religious implications. Information gleaned about the human condition from our dead ancestors must be weighed against serious non academic factors in a changing world. Modern concepts of respect for the dead impact the research practices of scholars and the management of heritage institutions.
Despite this, a critical over-review of physical anthropology has never been attempted, especially in light of more recent developments in the field (such as DNA and heavy isotope sampling). The impact of such results on long-held traditional historical interpretations is also a major issue. When such biological data is rigorously interpreted within its cultural-historical context it can be at the expense of dear and long-held beliefs. The proposed interdisciplinary research project wants to confront the policy and heritage issues arising when the search for knowledge sits uncomfortably with what society regards as right and good. The project is based on a network of physical anthropologists, bio-ethic experts, scholars of religious studies and heritage specialist and aims at collecting academic research results, policy protocols, legal regulations, research protocols and guidelines as a repository for working out best-practice reference materials.

Communicating Sainthood -- Constituting Regions and Nations in East-Central Europe

The project focuses on a range of different European regions using the cults of medieval saints and their modern appropriations as a vehicle for studying changing cultural values related to social cohesion and identity. Its main focal points are the interactions between centre and periphery, between the medieval Latin culture and regional interests, political and cultural agendas and their reflection in different media (images, music, liturgy, literature).The project is part of a collaborative research programme with other units in Austria (Institut für Realienkunde, Krems), Denmark (Rituals Centre, Copenhagen), Estonia (, and Norway (Department of History and Classical Studies, Trondheim); each of the constituent units are applying for funding by the respective national research funds in a EUROCORES framework coordinated by the European Science Foundation. The PIs of the collaborative project are Nils Holger Petersen, Gerhard Jaritz, Anu Mänd, Roman Hankeln. The proposed Hungarian project could be associated to the four EUROCORES applicants if OTKA accepts it as an international cooperation project (NN). The Hungarian project will be carried out by eight researchers; three of them will be employed by CEU for three years entirely on the cost of OTKA as post-docs. The research budget will also cover the costs of a major conference to be held at CEU in 2011, and will support the edition of two bilingual source editions in the series Central European Medieval Texts published by CEU Press, and contribute to the digital edition of sermons on Saint Elizabeth, Saint Stanislaus and Saint Ladislas, the publication of the English version of a monograph on the Hungarian Angevin Legendary, and finally a study-volume on the theme.

Communication and Knowledge Transfer in Medieval Monastic Networks
Conflicts, Control, and Concessions – The Central European Records of the Holy Apostolic Penitentiary
Economic History of Medieval Hungary as Reflected by Archaeology and Material Culture

The main aim of this project is to carry out interdisciplinary research in the field of economic history in the Carpathian Basin and to contextualize the Hungarian economic activities in the European system of production between the eleventh and the sixteenth century.

Invisible women: discrimination, sex ratio and mortality in Medieval Europe

Based on the data of past and present excavations throughout Europe, the aim of this research is to explore visible funerary habits and population and to place the findings into their social and cultural contexts, applying spatial analysis with GIS.

Medieval Central Europe Research Network (MECERN)

The primary purpose of this a network is to keep scholars and students working in this field informed of research projects, publications, meetings, queries, etc. It will consist of researchers from both the region and beyond, open to all interested persons. A homepage and bulletin board will be established and administered by the Medieval Studies Department at CEU. Joint research projects will be initiated and monitored, occasionally joint applications for funding composed. The Network will become member of CARMEN and thus establish contacts with medievalists in general.

Medieval Hebrew Inscriptions: a European Database

While a corpus of Jewish inscriptions from Antiquity exists since 1936, the absence of a similar research instrument for the subsequent period is widely deplored by medievalists.

Medieval Monastic Regions in Central Europe. The Spiritual and Physical Landscape Setting of Monastic Orders and Religious Houses
Plague Epidemics in the Late Middle Ages: Religious and Medical Responses
Researching the History of Transhumance in Macedonia
The Caucasus in Context, 300–1600
The Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns: Local Variations on a European Theme

The European Atlas of Historic Towns is one of the longest-running serial projects on history in Europe. Initiated in 1968 and taken up by 18 countries so far, it has produced atlases of more than 460 smaller or larger towns following a theoretically uniform plan. A new wave of interest in participating swept across East-Central Europe after 1989, the latest element of which was the joining of Hungary in 2004 and the publication of its first atlas (Sopron) in print in 2010. My presentation will, besides introducing the production and use of these atlases as research tools, also discuss the perspectives of this enterprise in the digital revolution of mapping.

The Medieval Animal Data-Network (MAD)
The Ravenna-Classe Project: Archaeology of a Deserted City

The aim of the project is to carry out archaeological excavations in cooperation with European or

Trans-European Diasporas: Migration, Minorities, and Diasporic Experience in East Central Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean 500-1800
Travel, Trade, and Transportation: The Infrastructure of Spatial Mobility in Medieval East Central Europe

This research network was set up to bring together scholars in East Central Europe who are interested in the field of historic routes research (dromography) between c. 300 and c. 1600. Initiated and hosted by the Medieval Studies Department of Central European University, this is an expressly interdisciplinary project covering themes ranging from medieval history, through archaeology, geography, place-name studies, and art history to spatial information technologies.

Urban Space and Urban Society: Comparative Investigation of the Usage of Space, Social Topography and Social Networks in Western Hungary (1400-1550)

The research project, on the one hand, investigates the late medieval and early modern urban elite of a chosen urban community – Pressburg (hung. Pozsony, lat. Posonium, today Bratislava) –, primarily the spatial presence of the economic and political elite within the town in order to facilitate knowledge about the different social groups from which the leaders were recruited. On the other hand, it intends to examine the realms of everyday life (boundaries of the parishes, religious and secular processions, etc.) as well as to reconstruct the late medieval system of plots and its owners. Combining all the above issues, the primary goal is to provide an overall analysis on the usage of urban space by the contemporary burghers.

Visual thinking and diagrammatic images in medieval manuscripts

The project explores visual thinking through a close study of medieval manuscripts asking in what way people thought differently by means of images from thinking through words or numbers. It addresses the question by scrutinising page layouts, diagrams and diagrammatic images and image-text relation. By doing so the project offers a novel approach toward examining manuscripts and links that with research in contemporary cognitive science. It studies the role of the diagrammatic and other type of images in the creation and transmission of medieval scientific and philosophical knowledge and explores it in the broader context of the history of science and philosophy.

Visual Thinking and Diagrammatic Images in Medieval Manuscripts

The main question I ask is in what way people think differently by means of images than through words or numbers. I explore visual thinking by a close study of medieval manuscripts and approach the material through cognitive science, bringing relevant insight from recent neurobiological discoveries related to vision and cognition. I address the central question by examining manuscript page layouts, diagrams, diagrammatic images and the visual language formed through the process of manuscript transmission. The research reveals the individual thinking behind specific examples and outlines a history of thinking patterns. I examine the role of visual thinking and of the emerging thinking patterns in the creation and transmission of scientific and philosophical knowledge.
I brought the project to the Central European University in order to link my research with teaching philosophy of science and manuscript studies and supervising postgraduate students and to set up an international interdisciplinary centre for manuscript studies with workshops and conferences.

“Margins of the Medieval World”-network