Strategic Partnership

Rolling Call 2021

Selected projects

Língua-lugar journal in Portuguese studies


The partnership between the Centre d'Études Lusophones (UNIGE), which has since become the Cátedra Lídia Jorge (16.12.2020), and the Romanisches Seminar (UZH) was reinforced over the past year with the open-access academic journal Língua-lugar: Literatura, História, Estudos Culturais and the co-organization of the workshop Lusofonia em Questão (UNIGE, 06.12.2019) where the concept of a common heritage - cultural, linguistic, and historical – was discussed. To these, we would like to keep forward this collaboration a new step forward: the joint realization of a common seminar to be followed by students and researchers from the Romanisches Seminar and the Unité de Portugais, on Modernidade e Modernismos em Português.

The journal Língua-lugar, published for the first time in June 2020 in UNIGE’s Open Access Publication platform, is the successful result of a joint effort. Possible only due to the funding provided by the Joint Seed Funding, it is a digital, biannual, and peer-reviewed journal, which grants scholars worldwide access to studies that use the Portuguese language as a vehicle.
This initiative can be considered founding: it is the first academic journal in Portuguese in Switzerland. Resorting to a trans-disciplinary perspective, the journal includes a thematic dossier, essays, interviews, and space for artistic and literary creation. Counting two published issues, this periodical has made available the academic production built in recent years in both Swiss institutions. We are currently working on the third issue. Seeking to nurture this new project until it is self-sustaining, we would like to solicit support for two more issues. It is now intended to continue the work for issues 4 and 5, for which funding is not yet fully secured.

We also intend to continue the reflection on the multiple uses of the Portuguese language started with the workshop Lusofonia em Questão. To question the linguistic realities and the cultural dilemmas associated with different approaches in a single language, often related to a colonial heritage, is, at the same time, a responsibility, and a goal. This meeting, O Português na sua diversidade: possibilidades e problemas, will take place at the UNIGE in June 2021, followed by the presentation of issue 3 of the journal Língua-lugar, and the book Antropofagias: um livro manifesto! (Peter Lang, 2021), edited by the journal’s editorial board members Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira and André Masseno along with other colleagues from the Romanisches Seminar.

Following the same joint reflection, the Portuguese departments of the UZH and UNIGE are planning an interdisciplinary seminar on Modernidade e Modernismos em Português: rotas, erros, roteiros, utopias. The proposal is based on three aspects: revisiting historical texts, carrying out post-colonial, decolonial readings of texts written in and translated into Portuguese, and discussing new critical procedures when reading and interpreting a corpus of texts in Portuguese, from letters and chronicles to songs, novels and multimedial literature. The aim is to build a panorama of texts, images, maps that situates Portuguese as a language of reflection in Switzerland, its global dimension and its impact throughout history. The division between modernity and modernisms seeks to understand the dynamics of the materiality of the Portuguese language in global history, involving navigations, routes and colonial perspectives regarding the very formation of modernity as a historical process, from the 15th century onwards and the inherent memories built by different actors (colonizers and the colonized). In relation to modernisms, we propose the analysis of artistic and avant-garde movements in Portugal, Brazil, Lusophone Africa, thus assessing the impact of the particularities on the global performance of the language and the perception of the canon. We will combine the proposal with ongoing seminars: Five sessions integrated in the seminar Mémoires coloniales des peuples colonisés par le Portugal of the Unité de Portugais of the UNIGE, and 5 sessions during the autumn semester in a workshop for PhD students of the UZH. All sessions will be accessible in a webinar format to interested students from both universities. The results will be published on the journal Língua-lugar.

Nazaré Torrão
Chargée d'enseignement
UNIGE - Département des langues et des littératures romanes
Dr. Nazaré Torrão
University of Geneva
Prof. Eduardo de Oliveira
University of Zurich
Prof. Alexander Keese
University of Geneva

The perception of medical drones in public health settings

Social Science
Migration Studies

According to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Urban Air Mobility – an air transportation system for passengers and cargo in and around urban environments, drones may be deployed in Europe within three to five years, offering the potential for greener and faster mobility solutions. This technology trend requires European, national and local authorities to prepare agile regulatory frameworks at different levels that will enable this new mode of transport. Critical to its success is citizens’ and future users’ confidence and acceptance to the technology as well as its related services and infrastructure. Currently, societal acceptance of urban drones is a hot topic on the agenda of politicians and regulators around the world.

Following this political dynamic, we are interested in exploring how urban drones are being perceived by the general public globally. Given that there are a number of ethical issues related to high-impact technological interventions such as drones, research topics may include, e.g., access & equity, benefit sharing, harm & risk, consent, vulnerability, allocation of resources, industry lobbying, job loss, vision of the good life etc, which all have normative consequences on regulation development and policy setting. The rationale is that, by providing transparent information and timely guidance on the public's perceptions and attitudes toward urban drones from the ethical perspective, the authorities at national and local levels will be better equipped to set responsive governance agendas, and to consolidate public acceptance of urban drones with a proactive approach and a set of effective ethical evaluation tools.

To better understand the values underpinning public perceptions, as well as the parameters related to societal acceptance, this project is designed to encompass a full-fledged research package including: a state-of-the-art literature review, empirical studies of the aforementioned use cases involving both qualitative and quantitative methods, stakeholder consultations, as well as framework and tool development. The study is expected to contribute to the analysis and examination of the perceptions, attitudes, expectations, and concerns of citizens with respect to the use of drones in urban environments, where human and robots will coexist and interact. In particular, two use cases are of particular relevance: the so-called “medical drones” for cargo delivery, used in public health and development programs; and the so-called “environmental drones” for image collection, used in biodiversity monitoring and precision agriculture applications. These drones have promised to delivery door-to-door health or farming services to citizens by, e.g., transporting lab samples over lakes or in remote mountainous areas, or collecting imagery for assessing the health of crops to determine how to maximise the harvest.

During this research visit, we will focus on the "medical drones" used in public health settings. Following the concept of “ethicist in residence”, the postdoc researcher of this application will be hosted by Prof. Karl BLANCHET at the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies of University of Geneva. The research visit has a threefold objective: acquire interdisciplinary knowledge about ethics and public health, exchange insights with scholars and researchers, and gain first-hand experience working with leading scholars in humanitarian studies. As an immediate outcome of the research visit, a measurable and clearly defined output is envisaged, namely, a co-authored publication between the researcher and the host professor on “a critical review of the state-of-the-art of societal acceptance of medical drones”, to be submitted to a top-tier international journal, such as the Lancet.

Ning Wang

Mining Textual Images: Datasets for the Segmentation of Digitized Manuscripts and Prints

Digital Studies

Our project aims at enriching HTR (Handwritten Text Recognition) and CV (Computer Vision) methodologies to enhance the quality of digital editions, the efficiency of text mining and the ability of illustration querying. We will develop digital solutions to process scans of manuscripts and prints, to retrieve and categorise text zones but also images. We will investigate as well how to link illustrations with their textual description (e.g. captions).

Simon Gabay
Prof. Dr. Tristan Weddigen
University of Zurich
Dr. Nicola Carboni
Post doc
UniGE - DH
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel

The Swiss Political Survey Garage

Swiss Political Survey Garage (SPS Garage) is a workshop for political science surveys. It was founded in 2020 to conduct survey experiments on vote choice in Swiss direct democratic votes. Based on the success of the original project, SPS Garage has widened its mission to provide a platform for Swiss political scientists to conduct survey experiments, high risk survey projects, and survey pre-testing. It enables experimentation with surveys of volunteers from the Swiss population to the Swiss political science community and especially to junior researchers at the political science institutes of the University of Geneva and Zurich. Hence, by allowing to conduct free of charge experimental survey research with a large panel, SPS Garage provides a subliminal but highly effective way to support basic research in the discipline. At the core of SPS Garage is a survey platform with a rapidly growing panel of currently about 7'500 participants that have been recruited through a collaboration with blue News – one of the ten largest Swiss online news portals. In order to make sure that SPS Garage surveys are of highest quality, we will construct a database that allows for optimal weighting with state-of-the-art methods for big data. We expect regular use of the survey panel in particular by journal scholars at our departments. This will result in master’s theses, scientific publications, and contributions in news outlets based on original survey data.

Oliver Strijbis
Maxime Walder
Oliver Strijbis