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Humanities researchers deserve more than a supporting role

Ioana Galleron and Geoffrey Williams

When you read a classic novel, the notes and introduction that deepen your understanding and pleasure are the result of literary research. When you go to the cinema, and see Jane Austen’s characters dressing and behaving as they would have done at the time, you are consuming humanities research. Dictionaries are repositories of cultural knowledge, and central to all the digital systems we take for granted.

Studies of culture, art, literature and language are not just the foundations of European scholarship, education, and identity—they sell. But it is easier to get funding for an automatic translation system than for the linguistic research that would make it work. Of 179 projects funded by the EU in the social sciences and humanities since 2007, only one was led by a humanities scholar, a historian.

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