Two Warwick researchers recognised as outstanding with European Research Council grants

Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly (Politics and International Studies) and Dr Joseph Sanzo (Classics/Institute of Advanced Studies) have each been awarded a €1.5M Starting Grant by the European Research Council in recognition of, and support for, their pioneering research.

Dr Heath-Kelly will investigate how and why national security has become part of the professional duties of healthcare and social security workers in her project, ‘Neoliberal Terror: The Radicalisation of Social Policy in Europe’.

Dr Sanzo will explore early Jewish and Christian magical traditions, investigating the contacts between Jewish and Christian practitioners as well as the dynamics of religious assimilation, cooperation, and differentiation in the everyday lives of ancient Jews and Christians in his project, Early Jewish and Christian Magical Traditions in Comparison and Contact.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Pam Thomas said: “The Starting Grant programme recognises the very best early-career researchers across more than 50 countries whose outstanding work expands the frontiers of knowledge. I am delighted that we have two Warwick researchers among this year’s successful applicants.”

Commenting on her project, Dr Heath-Kelly said: “Across Europe, health and social care workers have been made responsible for identifying and reporting radicalising persons to the security services, even though there exists no scientifically valid method to predict who will become a terrorist.

“There are also no studies which can validate the impact of counter-radicalisation programs on the prevention of terrorist attacks.

“What purpose do these policies serve, if we have no evidence they prevent terrorism? Quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to explore whether neoliberal economic and social policies are responsible for the expansion of counter-radicalisation programs – refocusing the welfare state on preventing ‘risks’ rather than meeting needs.”

Dr Sanzo said: “Although scholarly study of the early Jewish and Christian practices, rituals, and texts deemed “magical” has blossomed over the past few decades, this research has tended to be divided along disciplinary lines, with historians of Judaism studying Jewish magic and historians of Christianity studying Christian magic.

“This grant will allow an interdisciplinary team to address this scholarly gap by examining local and global features of the magical artefacts – and the literary traditions about magic – from late-antique Jewish and Christian communities. In particular, my project will focus on the similarities, differences, and contacts between these traditions in four central areas of their magical practices: biblical texts and traditions; sacred names and titles; the word-image-material relation; and references to illicit rituals.”

Congratulating Dr Heath-Kelly on her success, Professor Nick Vaughan-Williams, Head of the Department of Politics and International Studies, said: “This award not only reflects Charlotte’s brilliance as a leading international researcher in politics and international studies, but also the strength of the University of Warwick’s research infrastructure and the dedicated support of our specialist colleagues who supported and assisted with the application.”

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