Published on 16.10.2023

Three New Ambizione Fellows at the University of Fribourg

Last month the Swiss National Science Foundation announced the new recipients of the 2023 Ambizione career grants. These highly competitive grants allow early career researchers to lead their own research project and thus to significantly boost their profiles. Three of this year’s grantees have chosen the University of Fribourg as their host institution. Let’s have a look at their fascinating projects !

Lena Kaufmann's Ambizione project delves into the rapidly developing world of digital agriculture, with a particular focus on the use of multitasking drones. China is the global leader in the development of such drones, which are now also increasingly exported to Europe where they are put to use in crop cultivation.  This digitalization of agriculture holds great promise in the context of the global challenge of feeding the rapidly expanding global population but may also pose risks that are difficult to calculate as digital technologies are always vulnerable to be misappropriated and hacked.

Kaufmann (on the left) will examine this issue from an anthropological perspective that centres the rural actors working with Chinese drone technology on the ground in China and Europe. In two sub-projects focusing on Sino-German and Sino-Swiss cases respectively, she will examine the flows of people, technologies, knowledge and ideas between China and Europe.

Such an innovative project requiring diverse linguistic and scholarly skills could only be designed and implemented by a researcher with an equally diverse background. Kaufmann has studied Social Anthropology and Sinology in Rome, Berlin, Shanghai, and Beijing before coming to Zurich to complete her PhD research. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and the University of Konstanz as well as a Guest Lecturer in Chinese Society at the University of Bern.

Kaufmann shares her interest in language and geopolitics with Anne-Frédérique Schläpfer (in the middle), who will come to Fribourg to examine different forms of political agency in French literature in Switzerland from 1910 to 2010.

Schläpfer has studied English, French, and Politics in Lausanne before specializing in literary studies and she is now primarily concerned with the global dimension of literature. In her previous research projects conducted at the University of Geneva, New York University, as well as at the EHESS and the Institute of Modern and Contemporary History in Paris, she studied the idea of world literature within international organizations and proposed a transnational approach to Swiss French literature. She is now setting out to challenge a fundamental assumption of research stating that the literary production of the Romandie in the long twentieth century was fundamentally uninterested in social and political questions.

Anne-Frédérique Schläpfer focuses her investigation on three key historical moments including the First World War, the period immediately following the Second World War, as well as the Cold War. For each of these key moments she will examine the literary output of different collectives including magazines, literary groups and institutions. Her project will reassess the literary output of the Romandie in the long 20th century and make an important contribution to the European history of literary engagement and political agency.

The question of how media and political agency influence one another is also key to David Zagoury’s Ambizione project on Reformation art of the sixteenth century. In this project he will investigate reversible images that were produced in the course of Reformation polemics to better understand the rhetoric of subversion adopted by early Protestants. Such images reveal new meanings when spectators turn them upside down. They consequently involved the beholder actively in a dynamic of subversion and Zagoury is interested in finding out what impact such images had on the conception of political change during the Reformation period and beyond.

David Zagoury (on the right) will join the University of Fribourg after having held postdoctoral fellowships at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and at the University of Zurich and having been a visiting scholar at New York University and the University of Toronto. Before this, he studied Law, Art History, and Philosophy in Geneva and Oxford, before moving to the University of Cambridge for his doctoral research.

We are thrilled to be able to host three such outstanding researchers and their fascinating projects at the University of Fribourg, and we are looking forward to learning more about their findings in the coming years. If you too are interested in the Ambizione Fellowships (this year’s deadline is the 1st November 2023) or any other career funding scheme offered by the SNSF, do contact us at the SPR office for support with your application!