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Historians to study French Conques as a reflection of European history

Ivan Foletti from the MU Faculty of Arts will coordinate a grant from the European Union to study the monuments of Conques.


Ivan Foletti, an art historian at the MU Faculty of Arts, has been awarded a prestigious grant from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (MSCA-RISE) programme. This will allow him and a group of fellow experts to study the French Conques, a village of touristic, historical and political importance.

“Conques is an important point on the pilgrimage route to Santiago and contains many historic sights dating from the 9th to the 21st century. As a point of intersection of the events of the 19th and 20th centuries, which saw the rise of the concept of national states, it also holds an important place in European history,” explains Ivan Foletti, who has already created a 20-minute video about the village with his students.

The researchers are planning to conduct a chemical and technical analysis of the monuments at the site, publish a monograph on the village, create a database of the collected data and produce 3D models of the monuments and short documentary films for the public. This combination of goals aimed at the academia and the general public is reflected in the mix of institutions working on the project.

Besides Masaryk University, the research will involve other academic institutions such as The City University of New York in the US, the German Max Planck Society and the French National Centre for Scientific Research. Also involved will be the Italian publishing house Viella Libreria Editrice, which will be responsible for printed publications, and the local Association for the Economic and Cultural Development of Conques.

Foletti comments: “They are all excellent partners with whom we have worked together for a long time. I believe that this combination of top institutions, each with a different focus – on the chemical analysis of materials, historic landscape reconstruction and science communication – will succeed in raising the awareness of the World Heritage sights in Conques and their place in the shared European identity among researchers and the general public.”

The project was awarded a prestigious grant from the MSCA-RISE programme, which is one of the schemes of the Horizon 2020 framework programme. It is the only project in its category that will be fully coordinated from the Czech Republic this year. Moreover, its score of 97.4% means it has ranked second in Europe in its area of research.

Work on the project, including both research and academic activities and popularisation, will start in January 2021. The project is worth almost one million euros and will be coordinated by MUNI.

This is the fourth time that MUNI is coordinating an MSCA-RISE project. The previous three were all CEITEC projects, so this is the first successful project in the humanities.

The RISE project helps researchers develop international and interdisciplinary cooperation through a research project that involves student and employee exchanges at the partner institutions. This close and intense form of cooperation ensures the effective sharing and transfer of knowledge and skills.