Mark Dingemanse

2021-06-29T10:37:00+02:00

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has awarded the Heineken Young Scientists Award in the Humanities 2020 to Mark Dingemanse, a linguist at Radboud University Nijmegen. Dingemanse is receiving the award for his research into why languages are the way they are and how using language makes us human.

Mark Dingemanse’s work enjoys international acclaim. The jury praises the way he raises unconventional questions on the “margins” of linguistics, his dedication to open science — making data and methods of analysis freely available to other researchers — and his efforts in communicating science to a wide audience. He has, for example, organised various public events about linguistics and is the co-founder of Stemmen van Afrika [Voices of Africa], a website on the linguistic diversity of Africa.

Research on language
Dingemanse’s research addresses major questions: What do we do with language? What does language do with us? Why are languages the way they are? His work tends to deal with matters that have so far escaped the attention of linguistics, and it therefore regularly leads to new insights. He investigates, for example, the unwritten rules of language, studying words and signals that everyone uses all the time without thinking, like “m-hm,” “huh?”, or “oh!”. Those little words are perhaps the key to our language ability and our social life: without such rapid metacommunication, conversations would constantly get stuck. Dingemanse attempts to discover where such words come from and what their influence is on the structure of language.
His research is primarily fundamental but is also relevant to all kinds of social developments. We are talking more and more to devices, such as the iPhone’s Siri and Google Nest. For this to run smoothly, we need to know more about the structure of conversations, and preferably about their universal structure, i.e. not just limited to a few European languages. Dingemanse’s research can contribute to this.
Another one of his studies focuses on iconicity: how words and gestures can portray meaning. His work in this field reveals why some words are easier to learn than others and what is involved in relating something “with all the smells and colours”. A related line of research focuses on synaesthesia, i.e. how the senses are intermingled with one another. In the course of het Groot Nationaal Onderzoek naar Taal en Zintuigen [the National Survey on Language and the Senses], for example, he and his colleagues discovered that almost everyone — whether they are a synaesthete or not — connects vowels with colours in the same way (for example, “aah” is almost always red and “ee” is lighter than “oo”). Associations like these show how our brain processes sounds.

About the laureate
Mark Dingemanse studied African languages and cultures at Leiden University. He carried out research for his PhD in Ghana, receiving his doctorate cum laude in 2011 at Radboud University Nijmegen. That work contributed to a fundamental shift in research on the relationship between form and meaning in language; in recognition, Dingemanse received the AVT/Anéla Dissertation Award and an Otto Hahn Medal.
He followed up his PhD research by working at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, where he directed a series of interdisciplinary research projects. Since 2018 he has been an associate professor in the Department of Language and Communication at Radboud University, where he leads his own research group. He is also an affiliate research fellow at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in Nijmegen.
Dingemanse has received various grants, including VENI and VIDI grants from the Dutch Research Council (NWO), and in 2017 was in the top 25 of “talented young scientists” listed by the Dutch edition of New Scientist. In 2015 he and two colleagues were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize “for discovering that the word ‘huh?’ (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language”. The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded for “science that makes you laugh, then think”. The study had already received worldwide media attention.

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Mark Dingemanse

Maartje van der Woude

2021-06-29T10:58:10+02:00

Professor Maartje van der Woude received the Heineken Young Scientists Award in the Humanities 2018 for investigating the interplay between the law and public debate concerning such issues as terrorism, migration, and cross-border crime.
Maartje van der Woude focuses our attention on such issues as ethnic profiling and the reception of refugees. The jury praised her as an exceptional and inspiring research talent, a unique, passionate scientist who also seeks to connect with the public, for example in debates and a blog.
Maartje van der Woude is professor of Law and Society at Leiden University. She is also affiliated with the Centre International de Criminologie Comparée at the University of Montreal (Canada) and the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo (Norway).
Van der Woude studied criminal law and criminology at Leiden University and received her PhD there in 2010 for her dissertation on the drafting of Dutch counterterrorism legislation.

Research

Maartje van der Woude’s work focuses on the interplay between the law and real life in a changing society. She examines different facets of the law – for example terrorism and counterterrorism, border control, migration, public order and security – to study how political and public debate on the one hand and the law on the other influence each other and to explore how essentially separate policy domains such as migration and security become intertwined.
For example, in her VIDI-funded research project she is studying how the various EU member states deal with the Schengen agreements on open internal borders and the free movement of persons in a social and political climate in which the fear of ‘dangerous others’ is an overriding concern.

Karwan J. Fatah-Black

2021-06-29T10:45:47+02:00

Dr K.J. Fatah-Black is an assistant professor at the Institute for History, Leiden University. He received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for History 2016 for his study of Dutch formal and informal transatlantic trade in the Golden Age, especially the trade in slaves.
Karwan Fatah-Black studied history at the University of Amsterdam and received his doctorate from Leiden University in 2013. Slavery, smuggling and illegal trade are important themes in his work. For example, he helped calculate the profits gained by the Dutch from transporting and trading in African slaves. The outcomes were much higher than previously thought because he looked beyond official Dutch West India Company figures to include the extensive network of ‘informal trade’ that operated alongside it.
Fatah-Black is regarded as an expert on the history of slavery. He was awarded an NWO VENI grant to explore agency and empowerment among Surinamese slave families who cleared a path through slavery to freedom. He was also one of the founders of the Leiden Slavery Studies Association, which supports research on the role of slavery in general.
Karwan Fatah-Black is eager to engage in public discussion of the history of slavery. For example, he gives public lectures, makes media appearances, and is a quiz master at the Kwaku Festival in Amsterdam’s Bijlmer district and the Keti Koti (‘broken chains’) Festival, an annual celebration of the abolition of slavery in Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.

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Video interview with Karwan Fatah-Black, winner of the Heineken Young Scientists Award for History 2016

Irene van Renswoude

2021-06-29T10:48:12+02:00

Dr I. van Renswoude is a postdoctoral researcher at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands in The Hague. She received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for History 2014 for her study of the classical tradition of free speech and the processes of transformation by which it was transmitted to the Middle Ages.
Irene van Renswoude studied free speech in late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages at the Research Institute for History and Culture at Utrecht University. Her 2011 thesis dispelled theories that such ideals as rhetoric, honesty and criticism of the ruling class had disappeared at the end of Roman civilisation. She showed that the Middle Ages had dissidents as well. They were not philosophers, as in the latter days of Rome, but rather religious luminaries who cared just as little for wealth and power.
Today, Van Renswoude studies public debate in the Middle Ages at the Huygens ING Institute. In 2012, she won a prize from the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation.

QUOTE
‘It’s very important to venture outside the boundaries of your own discipline. We can learn a lot by opening ourselves up to ideas in other disciplines. There’s nothing as enriching as dialogue.’

Ugur Ü. Üngör

2020-04-22T15:17:13+02:00

The sociologist and historian Dr Uğur Ümit Üngör received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for History 2012 for his historical-sociological research on mass violence, nationalism, and the creation of states.
Dr Üngör has already received a number of prizes for his PhD research on the creation of the Turkish nation state in the period from 1913 to 1950, a politically sensitive issue. He has an impressive list of publications that includes three monographs, and has become an international authority in the field of genocide studies. Dr Üngör is now a lecturer at Utrecht University and a lecturer/researcher with the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD). He also writes satirical columns and essays on cosmopolitan life and on political and cultural boundaries. The jury calls Dr Üngör an outstanding, dedicated researcher who has already achieved a great deal. Amongst other things, it praises his ability to preserve a balance as regards the politically troublesome research topic of genocide.

Remco Breuker

2020-05-03T21:09:38+02:00

Remco Breuker received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for History 2010 for his research on Korean identities.
He places Korean medieval history within the broader theoretical context of community and identity. His PhD research led to new perspectives on how societies can be founded on contradictory principles a field that is far from being exhausted. He depicts Korea’s past as a complex and discontinuous whole full of contrasts, paradoxes and ambiguity, but one that was nevertheless decisive in constructing Korean identities.
Remco Breuker works at the University of Leiden. 

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