Anna Branach-Kallas, PhD has published an article in “Journal of Postcolonial Writing” entitled “Askari, colonial encounters, and postcolonial war commemoration in Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah”. Read it here.
Abstract: This article offers an analysis of the representation of the Askari in Abdulrazak Gurnah’s 2020 novel Afterlives. I approach the war and colonialism as interconnected factors and argue that Gurnah contests the myth of the Askari as savage mercenaries devoted to their German officers. By retracing Gurnah’s portraits of African protagonists, the article shows the different motivations and choices of the Askari before, during and after the First World War. The figure of Ilyas throws into relief the pitfalls of colonial modernity, as well as the disturbing continuities of violence between the colony and the concentration camp. By contrast, Hamza’s intimate relationship with a German in the Schutztruppe serves to explore an alternative history of emotions between colonial soldiers and their officers. The article goes on to examine Gurnah’s representation of war trauma, the phantomatic presence/absence of the Askari in collective memory, and the conflicted ethics of postcolonial war commemoration.
Theresa Matzinger, PhD has published an article in “Cognitive Linguistics” entitled“Phonotactically probable word shapes represent attractors in the cultural evolution of sound patterns”. Read it here.
Abstract: Words are processed more easily when they have canonical phonotactic shapes, i.e., shapes that are frequent both in the lexicon and in usage. We explore whether this cognitively grounded constraint or preference implies testable predictions about the implementation of sound change. Specifically, we hypothesise that words with canonical shapes favour, or ‘select for’, sound changes that (re-)produce words with the same shapes. To test this, we investigate a Middle English sound change known as Open Syllable Lengthening (OSL). OSL lengthened vowels in disyllables such as ME /ma.kə/ make, but more or less only when they became monosyllabic and when their vowels were non-high. We predict that word shapes produced by this implementation pattern should correspond to the shapes that were most common among morphologically simple monosyllables and disyllables at the time when OSL occurred. We test this prediction against Early Middle English corpus data. Our results largely confirm our prediction: monosyllables produced by OSL indeed conformed to the shapes that were most frequent among already existing monosyllables. At the same time, the failure of OSL to affect disyllables (such as body) prevented them from assuming shapes that were far more typical of morphologically complex word forms than of simple ones. This suggests that the actuation and implementation of sound changes may be even more sensitive to lexical probabilities than hitherto suspected. Also, it demonstrates how diachronic data can be used to test hypotheses about constraints on word recognition and processing.
New article in “Journal of Rural Studies” by Yulia Fomina, PhD and Aldona Glińskiej-Neweś, PhD entitled “Community supported agriculture: Setting the research agenda through a bibliometric analysis”. Read it here.
Abstract: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) plays a significant role in improving consumers’ access to fresh and high-quality fruits and vegetables, often at lower prices than in grocery stores. Correspondingly, consumers’ participation in CSAs is connected with their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs regarding healthy eating. Being of such social significance, research on CSA can attract the attention of scholars from a variety of fields, including human nutrition, sustainable development and consumer behaviors. This paper aims to map the research front of Community Supported Agriculture in order to identify the main themes and further research directions. The study examines 242 scientific articles on CSA over the last three decades by conducting bibliometric analyses via VOSviewer software, including on the co-occurrence of keywords and bibliometric coupling of documents, and it combines the latter with a systematic literature review. The study contributes to the development of research on CSA by identifying leading thematic clusters in the field. The analyses suggest that the most promising directions of research on CSA focus on consumers, their nutrition and health, as well as on social change led by CSA. These findings suggest that addressing societal and environmental problems serves as a particularly promising and contemporarily significant ground for CSA research by scholars of different disciplines.
New article in Contemporary Southeastern Europe by Francesco Trupia, PhD entitled “What would have been my name? The Post-Memory of the “Generation After” the Revival Process in Bulgaria”. Read it here. Abstract: This research paperlooks at the “generation after”the so-called “Revival Process”(1984–89) in order to explore the intergenerational transmission of memories of family traumas related to the largest assimilation campaign in Communist Bulgaria, which was implemented in the 1980s. To investigate how young Turks and Muslims hold, recollect, and contemplate familymemories,thisqualitativeempiricalresearchwasconducted through in-depth interviews complemented with a semi-structured and theme-guided questionnaire. Adopting an ethnographic sensibility, this study unravels aninconspicuous yet present web of family memories about the Revival Process and its aftermath, and an accompanying narrative that is verbalised in the most intimate spaces of everyday life. At a personal level, it turns out that the Turkish and Muslim generation of post-memory does not ransack the history of the Revival Process for political profit. Instead, it argues that there is a lack of self-examination with respect to the recent past in Bulgaria.
Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk, PhD and her peers have published an article in “Energy Research & Social Science” entitled “Beyond technology: A research agenda for social sciences and humanities research on renewable energy in Europe”. Read it here
Abstract: This article enriches the existing literature on the importance and role of the social sciences and humanities (SSH) in renewable energy sources research by providing a novel approach to instigating the future research agenda in this field. Employing a series of in-depth interviews, deliberative focus group workshops and a systematic horizon scanning process, which utilised the expert knowledge of 85 researchers from the field with diverse disciplinary backgrounds and expertise, the paper develops a set of 100 priority questions for future research within SSH scholarship on renewable energy sources. These questions were aggregated into four main directions: (i) deep transformations and connections to the broader economic system (i.e. radical ways of (re)arranging socio-technical, political and economic relations), (ii) cultural and geographical diversity (i.e. contextual cultural, historical, political and socio-economic factors influencing citizen support for energy transitions), (iii) complexifying energy governance (i.e. understanding energy systems from a systems dynamics perspective) and (iv) shifting from instrumental acceptance to value-based objectives (i.e. public support for energy transitions as a normative notion linked to trust-building and citizen engagement). While this agenda is not intended to be—and cannot be—exhaustive or exclusive, we argue that it advances the understanding of SSH research on renewable energy sources and may have important value in the prioritisation of SSH themes needed to enrich dialogues between policymakers, funding institutions and researchers. SSH scholarship should not be treated as instrumental to other research on renewable energy but as intrinsic and of the same hierarchical importance.
New article in “Memory studies” by Anna Branach-Kallas, PhD entitled “Afro-Germans, multidirectional memory and French colonial aphasia: The legacy of the First World War in Galadio by Didier Daeninckx“.
Abstract: This article offers an analysis of mnemonic traces in Galadio, Didier Daeninckx’s 2010 novel. I demonstrate that by fictionalizing the history of the persecution of Afro-Germans under National Socialism, the novel exposes antiblackness as a neglected phenomenon of the Third Reich. Synchronously, applying Michael Rothberg’s theoretical framework, the article discusses the dialogue between Jewish and Afro-German legacies of violence in the novel, as well as the intricate relation between colony, camp and what Paul Gilroy defines as camp mentality. Furthermore, I argue that Daeninckx engages with French colonial aphasia: in my interpretation, his oblique approach to the French imperial past conveys its simultaneous presence and absence, which is key to disabled memory. Finally, I focus on the ethics of commemoration in Galadio, which claims space for black soldiers in French collective memory of the two world wars, yet at the same time challenges imperial loyalties and homogeneous approaches to French national identity.
Anupam Singh, PhD and Aldona Glińska-Neweś, PhD have published an article in “Journal of Big Data” entitled “Modeling the public attitude towards organic foods: a big data and text mining approach”. Read it here
Abstract: This study aims to identify the topics that users post on Twitter about organic foods and to analyze the emotion-based sentiment of those tweets. The study addresses a call for an application of big data and text mining in different fields of research, as well as proposes more objective research methods in studies on food consumption. There is a growing interest in understanding consumer choices for foods which are caused by the predominant contribution of the food industry to climate change. So far, customer attitudes towards organic food have been studied mostly with self-reported methods, such as questionnaires and interviews, which have many limitations. Therefore, in the present study, we used big data and text mining techniques as more objective methods to analyze the public attitude about organic foods. A total of 43,724 Twitter posts were extracted with streaming Application Programming Interface (API). Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) algorithm was applied for topic modeling. A test of topic significance was performed to evaluate the quality of the topics. Public sentiment was analyzed based on the NRC emotion lexicon by utilizing Syuzhet package. Topic modeling results showed that people discuss on variety of themes related to organic foods such as plant-based diet, saving the planet, organic farming and standardization, authenticity, and food delivery, etc. Sentiment analysis results suggest that people view organic foods positively, though there are also people who are skeptical about the claims that organic foods are natural and free from chemicals and pesticides. The study contributes to the field of consumer behavior by implementing research methods grounded in text mining and big data. The study contributes also to the advancement of research in the field of sustainable food consumption by providing a fresh perspective on public attitude toward organic foods, filling the gaps in existing literature and research.
Congratulations to Adrian Wójcik, PhD from PSE team and all the other authors on „Increase in the Prevalence of Online Pornography Use: Objective Data Analysis from the Period Between 2004 and 2016 in Poland” that has been published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read it here.
Abstract: Despite the considerable amount of attention presently devoted to the high accessibility of online pornography, very little formal analyses have been carried out to show how the advent and proliferation of Internet technology has changed the prevalence of pornography use in populations. We conducted a preliminary analysis based on objective website traffic data, representing the changes in the number of (1) Internet users generally and (2) online pornography users specifically, between 2004 and 2016 in Poland. We observed a clear increase in the estimated number of people using online pornography in the analyzed period. The estimated number of general population members viewing pornography on the Internet increased over three times (310%) between October 2004 and October 2016–starting from an estimated 2.76 million in the first period to 8.54 million in the last. At the same time, we did not observe a clear increase in the percentage of Internet users who viewed online pornography in the same time period. Additionally, pornography viewership on the Internet was almost 2 times more prevalent among male (47%) than female Internet users (27%), and most popular in the 18–27 age group. Since our analysis is based on objective data, it does not share the limitations inherent in self-reports. However, our approach also has several important limitations (e.g., the analysis does not include online activity generated on mobile devices and under a private browsing mode); thus, the results should be interpreted with caution.
Congratulations to Theresa Matzinger, whose paper “Voice modulatory cues to structure across languages and species”, co-authored with Tecumseh Fitch (University of Vienna), has been published in the prestigious journal Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society B. Theresa Matzinger is an international fellow at the University Centre of Excellence Interacting Minds, Societies, Environments (IMSErt), working with the EVO team. Press release (University of Vienna)Article
Abstract: Voice modulatory cues such as variations in fundamental frequency, duration and pauses are key factors for structuring vocal signals in human speech and vocal communication in other tetrapods. Voice modulation physiology is highly similar in humans and other tetrapods due to shared ancestry and shared functional pressures for efficient communication. This has led to similarly structured vocalizations across humans and other tetrapods. Nonetheless, in their details, structural characteristics may vary across species and languages. Because data concerning voice modulation in non-human tetrapod vocal production and especially perception are relatively scarce compared to human vocal production and perception, this review focuses on voice modulatory cues used for speech segmentation across human languages, highlighting comparative data where available. Cues that are used similarly across many languages may help indicate which cues may result from physiological or basic cognitive constraints, and which cues may be employed more flexibly and are shaped by cultural evolution. This suggests promising candidates for future investigation of cues to structure in non-human tetrapod vocalizations.
Congratulations to Adam Wójcik, PhD from PSE team and all the other authors on „National identity predicts public health support during a global pandemic” that has been published in Nature Communications! Read the pre-print here.
Abstract: Changing collective behaviour and supporting non-pharmaceutical interventions is an important component in mitigating virus transmission during a pandemic. In a large international collaboration (Study 1, N = 49,968 across 67 countries), we investigated self-reported factors that associated with people reported adopting public health behaviours (e.g., spatial distancing and stricter hygiene) and endorsed public policy interventions (e.g., closing bars and restaurants) during the early stage of the pandemic (April-May 2020). Respondents who reported identifying more strongly with their nation consistently reported greater engagement in public health behaviours and support for public health policies. Results were similar for representative and non-representative national samples. Study 2 (N = 42 countries) conceptually replicated the central finding using aggregate indices of national identity (obtained using the World Values Survey) and a measure of actual behaviour change during the pandemic (obtained from Google mobility reports). Higher levels of national identification prior to the pandemic predicted lower mobility during the early stage of the pandemic (r = -.40). We discuss the potential implications of links between national identity, leadership, and public health for managing COVID-19 and future pandemics.
Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk, PhD and her peers have published an article in “The Anthropocene Review” entitled “The Anthropocene and ecological awareness in Poland: The post-socialist view”. Read it here
Abstract: Dynamic and unrestrained socio-economic development is upsetting the balance of nature’s mechanisms, causing a climate stalemate, or even climate destabilisation. After the Second World War a new political system – real socialism – was enforced on Poland. It brought about changes of a social, cultural, economic and environmental nature. Its immanent feature was the application of top-down decisions that did not take into account environmental components. There was also little ecological awareness within Polish society at that time. The transformations of the 1990s resulted not only in the liberalisation of the Polish economy, but also in the permeation of new trends oriented towards pro-environmental activities. The aim of the article is to find an answer to the question: How is ecological awareness currently shaped in the context of Anthropocene in Poland during the transition from a socialist economy to a capitalist economic system?
New article in “Leisure Studies” by Leszek Dąbrowski, PhD candidate and prof. Stefania Środa-Murawska entitled “Globalised and culturally homogenised? How Generation Z in Poland spends their free time”. You can read it here.
Abstract: Globalisation and cultural homogenisation are still vital processes that drive the unification of leisure behaviour around the world, especially among the youngest generation. This is particularly important for post-socialist countries because until 1989, there was no access to Western ways of spending free time. Polish Generation Z is the first generation born and raised entirely in a free country. Therefore, the question arises whether the 30 years that have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been sufficient to unify Generation Z’s leisure time behaviour under globalisation’s influence. The study aimed to determine the leisure behaviour of Generation Z in Poland in the context of cultural homogenisation. The analysis includes 1153 surveys with representatives of Generation Z from Polish cities. The study showed that the structure of Polish Generation Z’s leisure activities is dominated by multimedia entertainment: using the Internet, listening to music, watching YouTube or VOD (Video On Demand) platforms. Globalisation processes leading to progressive cultural homogenisation contribute to the spread of similar forms of spending free time originating in the so-called Western culture, which is also visible in Poland. Practical implications are presented for policymakers responsible for creating directions for youth leisure activities in cities.
New article in PLOS ONE by Anupam Singh, PhD entitled “What motivates consumers to buy organic foods? Results of an empirical study in the United States”. Abstract: Consumers perceive organic foods as more nutritious, natural, and environmentally friendly than non-organic or conventional foods. Since organic foods developed, studies on consumer behavior and organic foods have contributed significantly to its development. The presesent study aims to identify the factors affecting consumer buying behaviour toward organic foods in the United States. Survey data are collected from 770 consumers in the Midwest, United States. ANOVA, multiple linear regression, factor analysis, independent t-tests, and hierarchical multiple regression analysis are used to analyze the collected primary data. This research confirms health consciousness, consumer knowledge, perceived or subjective norms, and perception of price influence consumers’ attitudes toward buying organic foods. Availability is another factor that affected the purchase intentions of consumers. Age, education, and income are demographic factors that also impact consumers’ buying behavior. The findings help marketers of organic foods design strategies to succeed in the US’s fast-growing organic foods market.
New article in “Group Processes & Intergroup Relations” by Adrian Wójcik, PhD and his peers entitled “National narcissism and support for voluntary vaccination policy: The mediating role of vaccination conspiracy beliefs“.
Abstract: We investigate the relationship between vaccination hesitancy and the way people feel about their national groups. Antivaccination attitudes are associated with conspiracy beliefs, which have been linked to group-based defensiveness. Thus, we hypothesized that defensiveness about one’s national identity, operationalized as collective narcissism measured in relation to one’s national group, might be related to antivaccination attitudes. We found that national narcissism, but not national identification, predicted support for a voluntary vaccination policy both in a general population sample (N = 361) and among visitors of antivaccination discussion forums (N = 178). In two further studies involving national quota samples, national narcissism was also related to vaccination conspiracy beliefs (N = 1,048), and these beliefs mediated its association with support for a voluntary vaccination policy (N = 811). By highlighting the link between antiscience attitudes and collective narcissism, we demonstrate that group defensiveness can be linked to support for decisions that may undermine the health and well-being of present and future ingroup members.
New article in “Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe” by Francesco Trupia, PhD entitled “Theorising ‘Good Personhood’ in Rural Kosovo: Inconspicuous Coexistence and Local Serb Responses to Security and Identity Dilemmas“. Abstract: This paper explores the everyday experiences, perceptions,and practices of Kosovo Serbs residing in the rural fabric of Southeast Kosovo with regard to security–related issues. Buildingon previousqualitative social research conducted in CentralKosovo, it particularly investigates how local responses of ordinary Serbs reflect a certain pragmatic performativity in the face of Kosovo Albanians. In–depth interviews and focus groups were held with locals, while field observation was conducted to construct locally nuancedknowledge about the relations between ordinary Serbs, their identity,andthe surroundinglandscape. Similar to the Central Kosovo study’s findings, the results confirm that in Southeast Kosovo, local Serbs neither displayed nor unfolded forms of vernacularism or disloyaltytowardKosovoAlbanians.Conversely,theywerefound reflectingonpotentialcreativesolutionsfortacklingpovertyand underdevelopment in the hopeofavoidingreplicationsof post–1999 Kosovo War ideologies emanated by respective national media coverages and political rhetoric. Moreover, it is argued that security experts have de factooverlookeduntappedprocessesofpresent–dayinterethnic coexistence and resilience between Serbs and Albanians in the rural fabric by largely giving salience to the tense atmosphere in the Serb–majority urban clusters of North Kosovo. In fact, results also show that Kosov Serbs pragmatically perform an account of quotidian practices for restoring a sense and self-image of ‘personhood’ in the eyes of the ‘ethnic other’. Employing a research approach that aimed at avoiding unnecessary ethnicisation, this paper sheds light on a peace potential and true civic responsibility that emerged spontaneously from Kosovo Serb voices. Overall, the paper lays the ground for debating the notion of ‘personhood’ as a lens through which to unravel inconspicuous yet present interethnic coexistence in post-conflict Kosovo.
Newest publication by Brett Buttliere, PhD in “Methodological innovations” entitled Adopting standard variable labels solves many of the problems with sharing and reusing data. The text is open access and available here.
Abstract: Datasets and analysis scripts are becoming more available online, but most datasets are still unclear and difficult to use due to poor meta-data. Adopting standard variable label solves most of these problems and is easily implemented if we set the labels at the time of publication, that is, for authors to also establish standard variable labels when they establish for example, question wording. This simple step involves little effort but facilitates the sharing of datasets and analysis scripts enormously. Current initiatives to improve meta-data rely on users spending much time creating new meta-data for each variable, which is time consuming, unenjoyable, and hinders adoption. Some suggestions are made on how brief, unique, and clear variable labels can be developed, especially using the last two digits of the year the scale was published in. Standards for dataset and analysis script etiquette are the future, and the final section of the manuscript examines other easy places simple standards can save time and frustration for (re)users.
New article in “Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews” by Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk, PhD and her peers entitled “Changes in feedstocks of rural anaerobic digestion plants: External drivers towards a circular bioeconomy”.Justyna is part of our People, Space and Environments (PSE) team. Article is available in open access and you can read it here.
Abstract: The aim of this study is to better understand the recent changes in the feedstocks of anaerobic digestion plants, the driving forces behind these changes and consequent opportunities to strengthen closed-cycle energy production and promote the circular bioeconomy approaches. The study analyses Poland – a country with a highly diversified agrarian structures and with various levels of the development and focus of regional agricultural sectors which belong to the main sources of biosubstrates to be energetically processed in anaerobic digestion (AD) plants. Biowaste, including biowastes originating in agri-food production and in households, is indicated as one of the key sources for a more sustainable biogas generation. Our findings indicate and prove a gradual shift in the mix of substrates, including the growing role of energy processing of biowaste from households and municipalities. It was also ascertained that in the initial phase of the development of Polish biogas market in early 2010s, the AD substrates in most important position were agricultural raw materials (energy crops) and agricultural waste. On the other hand, during the course of time and due to developing legal requirements as well as financial and market conditions, the biowastes from the food industry and of municipal origin have gradually gained significance. An unintentional shift towards the energy processing of the more sustainable AD substrates in Poland is visible despite a rather low environmental awareness of AD operators.
The newest publication of PSE team. Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk, PhD and her collegaues published the article “What non-natural factors are behind the underuse of EU CAP funds in areas with valuable habitats?”. The text is avaiable in “Land Use Policy” journal.
Abstract: While the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (EU CAP) is being redefined, natural habitats, treated as wasteland for many years, are becoming a crucial element in the promotion of environmentally-friendly management of farmland and the protection of biodiversity and the local cultural landscape. The aim of the study is to assess the effectiveness of the uptake of certain environmental CAP funds and to describe the factors behind the spatial differentiation of the uptake of these funds. Both natural and non-natural conditions are taken into account. The analysis is conducted for Poland, a country engaged in reform of the agricultural economy, which has sizeable areas of habitats of high value for nature and which represents a region of Europe in need of special public support for environmental improvement. The research procedure consisted of the following four main stages: (1) spatial delimitation of grasslands (taking into account their territorial rank and quality) and (2) the level of utilisation of funds under specific Agri-Environmental and Climate Schemes (AECSs), (3) determining the relationships – types and (4) identifying the causes of disproportions, taking into account selected non-natural conditions. Apart from indicator methods, use is made of spatial typology and spatial autocorrelation methods (global and local Moran I coefficients). The results of the analysis show the decisive influence of natural and environmental conditions on the amount of funds expended through AECSs. However, the study has also identified situations where non-natural factors come to the fore. Among the non-natural conditions, a key role is played by historical factors. The study has identified areas with untapped environmental potential and those where environmental farming measures are underutilised given the environmental potential of those areas. The situation described is detrimental to the effectiveness of support, which is contrary to CAP principles. The findings are important in the context of monitoring and evaluating the EU’s agricultural policies, which should take more account of the characteristics of the individual countries, including their natural regional and local specificities.
Dr Francesco Trupia published the article entitled Debating (Post-)Coloniality in Southeast Europe: A Minority Oriented Perspective in Bulgaria. The text is available in the “Acta Humana – Human Rights Publication” journal: https://folyoirat.ludovika.hu/index.php/actahumana/article/view/5371
Abstract: Despite the fact that its scholarly application has been considered highly problematic in the former Eastern Bloc and barely employed due to the Marxist background, post-colonialism has been recently introduced by a large number of scholars and academics. Yet, theoretical experiments, research, and projection of post-colonialism in Central and Eastern Europe have come to compose an abundant field of reference. Drawing on this theoretical approach, this paper aims to debate the category of post-coloniality in postcommunist Bulgaria in order to better venture the parapet of the post-1989 transition. Employing a ‘minority perspective’, which will reveal minority positionality in the contemporary Bulgarian cultural and political ground, this paper traces potential power actions of (dis)possession of knowledge among subaltern groups, which actions continue to negate, disavow, distort, and deny access to different forms of minority cultures and life visions represented by non-majoritarian segments of the Bulgarian society. In general, this paper digs into the historical experience of the ethnic Turks and Muslim minority groups in Bulgaria prior to the communist experience, throughout and after the collapse of communism, and in the contemporary Republic of Bulgaria. In particular, post-coloniality – understood in terms of ‘coloniality of being’ – shall offer a better and critical angle of investigation over the issues of human marginalisation, cultural subordination, and knowledge exploitation in Bulgaria and Southeast Europe.
In the newest paper from PSE Team, we explain why some people prefer greenwashing, image enhancement actions over real pro-environmental politics.
Abstract: Past research indicates that national narcissism (but not national identification) predicts support for anti-environmental policies, and that this effect is driven by national narcissists’ need to defend the group’s image. We hypothesized that although national narcissists might not support proenvironmental actions, they would support promoting a proenvironmental image of their nation (i.e., greenwashing). In five studies (overall N = 2231), we demonstrated that individuals high in national narcissism were less likely to support actual proenvironmental actions (Studies 2–5), but more likely to support greenwashing campaigns (Studies 1–3, 5), although not when greenwashing would involve financial costs incurred by the ingroup (Study 4). In Study 5, national narcissism predicted support for greenwashing as a political strategy—it was related to the preference for green image enhancement over green actions (controlling for proenvironmental attitudes and individual narcissism). We did not observe similar effects for national identification or right-wing political ideology. Implications for promoting proenvironmentalism across distinct groups are discussed.
Michael Pleyer prepared with Stefan Hartmann the paper entitled Constructing a Protolanguage: Reconstructing Prehistoric Languages in a Usage-Based Construction Grammar Framework. The article is published by the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences”: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/…/10…/rstb.2020.0200
Abstract: Construction grammar is an approach to language that posits that units and structures in language can be exhaustively described as pairings between form and meaning. These pairings are called constructions and can have different degrees of abstraction, i.e. they span the entire range from very concrete (armadillo, avocado) to very abstract constructions such as the ditransitive construction (I gave her a book). This approach has been applied to a wide variety of different areas of research in linguistics, such as how new constructions emerge and change historically. It has also been applied to investigate the evolutionary emergence of modern fully fledged language, i.e. the question of how systems of constructions can arise out of prelinguistic communication. In this paper, we review the contribution of usage-based construction grammar approaches to language change and language evolution to the questions of (i) the structure and nature of prehistoric languages and (ii) how constructions in prehistoric languages emerged out of non-linguistic or protolinguistic communication. In particular, we discuss the possibilities of using constructions as the main unit of analysis both in reconstructing predecessors of existing languages (protolanguages) and in formulating theories of how a potential predecessor of human language in general (protolanguage) must have looked like.
The team composed of: Stefania Środa-Murawska, Elżbieta Grzelak-Kostulska, Leszek Dąbrowski, Jadwiga Biegańska and Paweł Smoliński published the article entitled Culture-led regeneration as a vital instrument for preserving the cultural heritage of historical parks in Poland. The text was published in the “Museology and Cultural Heritage” journal and is available at https://muzeologia.sk/index_htm_files/mkd_1_21_Murawska.pdf
Abstract: Historical parks and palace and park complexes deserve special protection for their potential and as the embodiment of national heritage. Most of them are impressive estates that bear witness to their times and reflect the dreams and aspirations of their owners. However, because of the entangled history of post-socialist countries including Poland much of the cultural heritage they represent has been irreversibly destroyed. The aim of the study was to assess the concept of culture-led regeneration as applied to palace and park complexes situated in rural areas at risk of marginalisation in a post-socialist country, Poland, using the case of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship. Its findings show that culture-led regeneration is a valuable instrument for protecting historical palace and park estates, which saves the areas from further devastation and boosts local development.
Our postdoctoral fellow, Francesco Trupia, PhD published the article entitled ‘Good personhood’ in Kosovo: a Serbian perspective from below. The text is available in the “Peacebuilding” journal: https://www.tandfonline.com/…/10…/21647259.2021.1895605
Abstract: This research paper investigates the everyday experiences, perceptions and practices of ordinary Serb citizen outside the cluster of majority Serb villages and cities in Northern Kosovo. Through employing an emic perspective, it explores their quotidian social reality in which Serbian identity is negotiated and made meaningful. Through a focus on the everyday understanding of ‘good personhood’, the main aim of this research paper is to disentangle local values and uses of ‘being a(good) Serb’ from the externally imposed post-war discourse in Kosovo. The results of this research paper advocate are thinking of the role of Serbian communities in Kosovo and reveal that a newly pragmatic form of performing the Serbian identity has been inconspicuously emerging in Kosovo, challenging earlier assumptions of a purportedly homogenous ethno-nationalist identification preference.
Przemysław Żywiczyński and Sławomir Wacewicz in cooperation with Casey Lister published the article entitled Pantomimic fossils in modern human communication. The text is issued by the Royal Society Publishing in the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” journal. Congrats!
Abstract: Bodily mimesis, the capacity to use the body representationally, was one of the key innovations that allowed early humans to go beyond the ‘baseline’ of generalized ape communication and cognition. We argue that the original human-specific communication afforded by bodily mimesis was based on signs that involve three entities: an expression that represents an object (i.e. communicated content) for an interpreter. We further propose that the core component of this communication, pantomime, was able to transmit referential information that was not limited to select semantic domains or the ‘here-and-now’, by means of motivated—most importantly iconic—signs. Pressures for expressivity and economy then led to conventionalization of signs and a growth of linguistic characteristics: semiotic systematicity and combinatorial expression. Despite these developments, both naturalistic and experimental data suggest that the system of pantomime did not disappear and is actively used by modern humans. Its contemporary manifestations, or pantomimic fossils, emerge when language cannot be used, for instance when people do not share a common language, or in situations where the use of (spoken) language is difficult, impossible or forbidden. Under such circumstances, people bootstrap communication by means of pantomime and, when these circumstances persist, newly emergent pantomimic communication becomes increasingly language-like.
Our postdoctoral fellow, Michael Pleyer, PhD published with his colleague the article entitled Construction grammar for monkeys? Animal communication and its implications for language evolution in the light of usage-based linguistic theory. You can read this text in the “Evolutionary Linguistic Theory” journal: https://www.jbe-platform.com/…/10.1075/elt.00021.ple
Abstract: In recent years, multiple researchers working on the evolution of language have put forward the idea that the theoretical framework of usage-based approaches and Construction Grammar is highly suitable for modelling the emergence of human language from pre-linguistic or proto-linguistic communication systems. This also raises the question of whether usage-based and constructionist approaches can be integrated with the analysis of animal communication systems. In this paper, we review possible avenues where usage-based, constructionist approaches can make contact with animal communication research, which in turn also has implications for theories of language evolution. To this end, we first give an overview of key assumptions of usage-based and constructionist approaches before reviewing some key issues in animal communication research through the lens of usage-based, constructionist approaches. Specifically, we will discuss how research on alarm calls, gestural communication and symbol-trained animals can be brought into contact with usage-based, constructionist theorizing. We argue that a constructionist view of animal communication can yield new perspectives on its relation to human language, which in turn has important implications regarding the evolution of language. Importantly, this theoretical approach also generates hypotheses that have the potential of complementing and extending results from the more formalist approaches that often underlie current animal communication research.
Krzysztof Rogatka prepared with his colleagues the article entitled Urban resilience in spatial planning of Polish cities – True or false? Transformational perspective. This text was published in the “Land Use Policy” journal. Click and read more: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837720325102
Abstract: The system transformation initiated in Poland after 1989, the departure from the socialist model of spatial management, and the neoliberal economy and its paradigms have left their mark on the urban development in Poland. A need arose to confront the spatial planning system with new challenges and threats of both natural and socioeconomic nature. In this context, the concept of urban resilience seems to be a useful approach from the viewpoint of spatial planning. The aim of this article is to present the concept of urban resilience and its implementation in the planning process in the largest cities in Poland with a focus on the transformational perspective. In order to achieve the research goal of the study authors analyzed and evaluated 15 623 records of the data connected with spatial planning in 39 largest cities in Poland. Moreover this study was the first theoretical and empirical attempt to analyse and evaluate the planning situation in Poland after 1989 in context of urban resilience concept. The findings show that the spatial planning in Poland has a good legal framework for implementing urban resilience, but achieving full application of discussed concept requires adjustments at the executive level, concerning planning practice.
Sławomir Wacewicz and Przemysław Żywiczyński in cooperation with Roland Mühlenbernd from Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft in Berlin published the article devoted to Politeness and reputation in cultural evolution.
Click here and read this great text: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10988-020-09315-6
Abstract: Politeness in conversation is a fascinating aspect of human interaction that directly interfaces language use and human social behavior more generally. We show how game theory, as a higher-order theory of behavior, can provide the tools to understand and model polite behavior. The recently proposed responsibility exchange theory (Chaudhry and Loewenstein in Psychol Rev 126(3):313–344, 2019) describes how the polite communications of thanking and apologizing impact two different types of an agent’s social image: (perceived) warmth and (perceived) competence. Here, we extend this approach in several ways, most importantly by adding a cultural-evolutionary dynamics that makes it possible to investigate the evolutionary stability of politeness strategies. Our analysis shows that in a society of agents who value status-related traits (such as competence) over reciprocity-related traits (such as warmth), both the less and the more polite strategies are maintained in cycles of cultural-evolutionary change.
Prof. Anna Branach-Kallas prepared the article entitled Multidirectional vulnerabilities: Trauma, bare life, and resistance in June Hutton’s Underground which was published in “The Journal of Commonwealth Literature”: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0021989420969964?journalCode=jcla
Abstract: The article offers an analysis of Underground, published by Canadian writer June Hutton in 2009. The main protagonist of the novel is a young Canadian, Albert Fraser, who suffers severe shock and disillusionment in the trenches of the First World War. He faces unemployment and destitution during the Great Depression and eventually joins the 1,700 Canadian volunteers who fought in the anti-fascist cause during the Spanish Civil War. My purpose is to analyse Hutton’s representation of the Canadian veterans’ difficult reintegration in the post-war years and the protagonist’s prise de conscience which ultimately leads him to Spain, despite his hatred of war. While discussing the veterans’ discontent and the Canadian government’s attempts to control this unruly population, I refer to Judith Butler’s conceptualization of precariousness and precarity, as well as Giorgio Agamben’s philosophical reflection on biopolitics and bare life. Central in my reading is the terrain of the camp — the hobo camp, the relief camp, and the POW camp — as a site of biopolitical exclusion, yet also a space of encounter that triggers ethical reflection. Furthermore, I demonstrate how the novel stages unexpected alliances between the protagonist and Chinese characters, which cause Fraser to revise his racist opinions. I propose the concept of multidirectional vulnerabilities to explore the parallels between these apparently disjointed geographies and temporalities. The article shows how Hutton represents the vulnerability of Canadian bodies in a historical period of socio-political upheavals, yet at the same time locates in their vulnerability the possibility of resistance and an alternative ethics.
Prof. Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk and prof. Krzysztof Rogatka with their colleagues published the article entitled Smart Energy in a Smart City: Utopia or Reality? Evidence from Poland.
This text is available in the “Energies” journal: https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/13/21/5795/htm
Abstract: The main principles of the smart city concept rely on modern, environmentally friendly technologies. One manifestation of the smart city concept is investments in renewable energy sources (RES), which are currently a popular direction in urban transformation. It makes sense, therefore, to analyse how Polish cities are coping with this challenge and whether they are including the implementation of RES facilities in their development strategies. The aim of the article is to analyze and assess the level at which renewable energy facilities are being implemented or developed in the urban space of cities in Poland as a pillar of the implementation of the smart city concept. This goal is realized on two levels: the theoretical (analysis of strategic documents) and the practical (analysis of the capacity of RES installations, questionnaire studies). The study shows that renewable energy installations are an important part of the development strategies of Polish cities, and especially of those that aspire to be termed “smart cities”. Moreover, it is shown that the predominant RES facilities are those based on solar energy.
Prof. Daniel Makowiecki, the leader of the PAST team, prepared with his colleagues the article entitled Winter temperature and forest cover have shaped red deer distribution in Europe and the Ural Mountains since the Late Pleistocene. The article was published in the “Journal of Biogeography”.
Click and read more: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jbi.13989
Abstract: The Expansion-Contraction model has been used to explain the responses of species to climatic changes. During periods of unfavourable climatic conditions, species retreat to refugia from where they may later expand. This paper focuses on the palaeoecology of red deer over the past 54 ka across Europe and the Urals, to reveal patterns of change in their range and explore the role of environmental conditions in determining their distribution. We collected 984 records of radiocarbon-dated red deer subfossils from the Late Pleistocene and the Holocene, including 93 original dates. For each deer sample we compiled climatic and biome type data for the corresponding time intervals. During the last 54 ka changes in red deer range in Europe and the Urals were asynchronous and differed between western and eastern Europe and western Asia due to different environmental conditions in those regions. The range of suitable areas for deer during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) was larger than previously thought and covered vast regions not only in southern but also in western and eastern Europe. Throughout the period investigated the majority of specimens inhabited forests in the temperate climatic zone. The contribution of forests in deer localities significantly decreased during the last 4 ka, due to deforestation of Europe caused by humans. Mean January temperature was the main limiting factor for species distribution. Over 90% of the samples were found in areas where mean January temperature was above −10°C. Red deer response to climatic oscillations are in agreement with the Expansion-Contraction model but in contradiction to the statement of only the southernmost LGM refugia of the species. During the last 54 ka red deer occurred mostly in forests of the temperate climatic zone.
Sławomir Wacewicz, Przemysław Żywiczyński and Michael Pleyer from our Centre published with their colleagues the article Language in Language Evolution Research. In Defense of a Pluralistic View.You can read this text in the “Biolinguistics” journal: https://biolinguistics.eu/…/biolinguis…/article/view/739.
Abstract: Many controversies in language evolution research derive from the fact that language is itself a natural language word, which makes the underlying concept fuzzy and cumbersome, and a common perception is that progress in language evolution research is hindered because researchers do not ‘talk about the same thing’. In this article, we claim that agreement on a single, top-down definition of language is not a sine qua non for good and productive research in the field of language evolution. First, we use the example of the notion FLN (‘faculty of language in the narrow sense’) to demonstrate how the specific wording of an important top-down definition of (the faculty of) language can—surprisingly—be inconsequential to actual research practice. We then review four approaches to language evolution that we estimate to be particularly influential in the last decade. We show how their breadth precludes a single common conceptualization of language but instead leads to a family resemblance pattern, which underwrites fruitful communication between these approaches, leading to cross-fertilisation and synergies.
Dr Stefania Środa-Murawska from the PSE team published the article entitled Railway feat. culture – Rumia library effect as an example of the influence of culture-led regeneration in a medium-sized city in Poland. You can read this text in the journal “Cities”: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264275120312233. Congratulations!
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to verify the thesis put forward by Skot-Hansen et al. (2013) with regard to the potential of modern libraries, but considered in the context of an investment located in a post-socialist medium-sized city in Poland. The study focuses on determining whether it is possible to create in an ordinary medium-sized city in a country belonging to the Socialist Bloc in 1945–1989 an extraordinary library which will have the potential to become (1) an icon, (2) a placemaker and (3) part of community vitalisation. Such a potential of modern libraries is indicated by Skot-Hansen et al. (2013). They analyse libraries located in large Western European cities. Therefore, the question arises about the possibility of extrapolating the indicated features to libraries located in smaller settlement units and located in Eastern European countries. This is an area whose socio-economic development over the past decades has been different than the countries of Western Europe indicated by Skot-Hansen et al. (2013).
Prof. Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk, a social geographer from the PSE team, prepared with her international research team the article entitled Renewables projects in peripheries: determinants, challenges and perspectives of biogas plants – insights from Central European countries. The text was published in the journal “Regional Studies, Regional Science”. Congratulations! We encourage you to read this text: https://www.tandfonline.com/…/10…/21681376.2020.1807399
Abstract: Biogas energy has been introduced into Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) through various incentives after their accession to the European Union in 2004. This paper contributes to an understanding of the determinants, challenges and perspectives of agricultural biogas plants in three CEECs (Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic). Using a combination of quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews) methods, it particularly addresses varieties in public support for biogas sectors, how the relationships between biogas plants as new energy entities and their locations in rural peripheries are constructed, and how the operation of biogas plants influences local rural development. We found that as a result of various agriculture and agricultural policies in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the second half of the 20th century, the preconditions for the incorporation of agricultural biogas plants into agriculture and rural space generally differ significantly. While in the Czech Republic and Slovakia agricultural biogas plants were usually established within large-scale agricultural farms, in Poland these are rather located off-farm. The most profound challenge for today’s biogas plants in all the CEECs studied lies in the transition from direct public incentives to a more self-sufficient business-oriented model focused on cooperation, participation and the involvement of local stakeholders in decision-making, as well as the energy utilization of locally generated agricultural waste and biowaste from households. By accommodation of these principles, agricultural biogas plants in CEECs might become a more useful and sustainable element of the rural energy transition.
Prof. Maria Lewicka with her colleague published the article entitled Affective map of Warsaw: Testing Alexander’s pattern language theory in an urban landscape. You can read this text in the journal “Landscape and Urban Planning”: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204619317311. Congratulations!
Abstract: A pattern language is a set of recipes, described by the architect Christopher Alexander, to help design spaces that will appeal to everybody and satisfy basic human needs. In this paper, we tested (1) whether the presence of patterns in an urban landscape is associated with a positive affect and aesthetic appreciation, and (2) what kind of emotions (low or high arousal) are elicited by settings with identified patterns and thus whether pattern theory is a manifestation of the conservative (enclosed, with continuous identity and offering rest) or the progressive (open, dynamic, and promoting social interaction) meaning of place. Participants evaluated 1310 panoramic pictures covering the entire area of a large European city (Warsaw), according to the four types of elicited affect (relaxation, excitement, irritation, and boredom), aesthetics (pretty vs. ugly settings), and liking. Expert judges estimated the presence of 68 patterns in the same pictures. The findings show that the presence of patterns in an urban landscape was associated with increased positive affect, aesthetic appreciation of the setting, and more liking. The effects of the presence of patterns were not eliminated by the content of the pictures (e.g., the presence or lack of nature). The dominant emotion was that of relaxation, suggesting that pattern language theory is rooted in the conservative (essentialist) rather than the progressive (anti-essentialist) concept of place. Except for the strictly defined downtown, Warsaw was judged as a mostly relaxed, and somewhat boring city. Alternative explanations and suggestions for future studies have been presented.
Sławomir Wacewicz, Przemysław Żywiczyński and Jordan Zlatev prepared articles that were published in the prestigious journals: “Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology” and “Journal of Language Evolution”. In the first one, you can read about Sex differences in ocular morphology in Caucasian people: a dubious role of sexual selection in the evolution of sexual dimorphism of the human eye. The second text is devoted to Pantomime as the original human-specific communicative system. We encourage you to read these texts! Links are below: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00265-020-02894-1https://academic.oup.com/jole/article/5/2/156/5899988?searchresult=1
Abstrakt 1: The horizontal size of the exposed depigmented sclera in Caucasians has been previously suggested to be sexually dimorphic, and the significance of this phenomenon remains unclear. Here we build on a previous study and extend it by (i) examining sex differences in other measures of ocular morphology and (ii) exploring the link between eye morphology and biometric markers of facial attractiveness. We used facial photographs of 100 Caucasians (50 men) from Eastern-Central Europe and digitally measured four ocular features. Eye measurements were tested for sex differences and associations with morphometric data on facial averageness and sexual shape dimorphism. We found that sclera surface is more horizontally exposed in men, even though the total surface area is similar in both sexes. We also found that eye fissures are rounder (less rectangular) in women than in men and that irises are brighter in women. We did not find any relationship between the examined eye features and two aspects of facial attractiveness: facial averageness and sexual dimorphism in facial shape. Despite being sexually dimorphic, eye features may be loosely linked with the development of facial sexual ornamentation. The role of sexual selection in the evolution of the observed phenomena is disputable. Abstrakt 2: We propose reframing one of the key questions in the field of language evolution as what was the original human-specific communicative system? With the help of cognitive semiotics, first we clarify the difference between signals, which characterize animal communication, and signs, which do not replace but complement signals in human communication. We claim that the evolution of bodily mimesis allowed for the use of signs, and the social-cognitive skills needed to support them to emerge in hominin evolution. Neither signs nor signals operate single-handedly, but as part of semiotic systems. Communicative systems can be either monosemiotic or polysemiotic—the former consisting of a single semiotic system and the latter, of several. Our proposal is that pantomime, as the original human-specific communicative system, should be characterized as polysemiotic: dominated by gesture but also including vocalization, facial expression, and possibly the rudiments of depiction. Given that pantomimic gestures must have been maximally similar to bodily actions, we characterize them as typically (1) dominated by iconicity, (2) of the primary kind, (3) involving the whole body, (4) performed from a first-person perspective, (5) concerning peripersonal space, and (6) using the Enacting mode of representation.
Magdalena Krajcarz and Magdalena Sudoł-Procyk from the PAST team published with their colleagues the paper devoted to the history of cats. This time the main focus is given to the ecology of the earliest known ancestors of domestic cats in Poland, which lived during the Neolithic Period. The new research reports evidence that these animals existed in a commensal but free-living relationship with humans. Although not yet fully dependent on people for food supply, they stayed close to farmlands, hunted the pests of cultivated fields and shared an ecological niche with native wildcats.The study is now published in PNAS: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/07/09/1918884117Other links: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/07/house-cat-ancestors-found-poland-caves-near-east/https://www.inverse.com/science/are-cats-even-domesticatedhttps://www.umk.pl/wiadomosci/?id=26837
Abstract: Cat remains from Poland dated to 4,200 to 2,300 y BCE are currently the earliest evidence for the migration of the Near Eastern cat (NE cat), the ancestor of domestic cats, into Central Europe. This early immigration preceded the known establishment of housecat populations in the region by around 3,000 y. One hypothesis assumed that NE cats followed the migration of early farmers as synanthropes. In this study, we analyze the stable isotopes in six samples of Late Neolithic NE cat bones and further 34 of the associated fauna, including the European wildcat. We approximate the diet and trophic ecology of Late Neolithic felids in a broad context of contemporary wild and domestic animals and humans. In addition, we compared the ecology of Late Neolithic NE cats with the earliest domestic cats known from the territory of Poland, dating to the Roman Period. Our results reveal that human agricultural activity during the Late Neolithic had already impacted the isotopic signature of rodents in the ecosystem. These synanthropic pests constituted a significant proportion of the NE cat’s diet. Our interpretation is that Late Neolithic NE cats were opportunistic synanthropes, most probably free-living individuals (i.e., not directly relying on a human food supply). We explore niche partitioning between studied NE cats and the contemporary native European wildcats. We find only minor differences between the isotopic ecology of both these taxa. We conclude that, after the appearance of the NE cat, both felid taxa shared the ecological niches.
Prof. Grzegorz Osipowicz and prof. Krzysztof Cyrek published with their colleagues an article entitled Stone Age technologies and human behaviors as reflected in decoration of osseous artefacts from the northern part of East-Central Europe. You can read this text in “Quaternary International” and on Academia.edu.
Abstract: This article presents the results of traceological studies of ornaments observed on selected prehistoric osseous products from Poland and Lithuania. Included are unique artefacts from this region dated to the Late Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic, or which are connected to Subneolithic communities. The article presents the results of analyses focused on interpreting the applied decorative techniques and tools employed in making the ornaments. In some cases, the use of metal tools, rare or unknown in a given area, is suggested, which presents a significant impact on the interpretation of the socio-cultural nature. An attempt is also made to identify the roles of symbolic features hidden in the way the ornaments were created or how they were treated afterwards. For the analysis of the artefacts, stereomicroscopes, SEM, computed tomography and optical co- herence tomography (OCT) have been used.
Dr Michael Pleyer and his colleagues have published and article titled Compositionality in Different Modalities: A View from Usage-Based Linguistics in”International Journal of Primatology”. You can read the full article here.
Abstract: The field of linguistics concerns itself with understanding the human capacity for language. Compositionality is a key notion in this research tradition. Compositionality refers to the notion that the meaning of a complex linguistic unit is a function of the meanings of its constituent parts. However, the question as to whether compositionality is a defining feature of human language is a matter of debate: usage-based and constructionist approaches emphasize the pervasive role of idiomaticity in language, and argue that strict compositionality is the exception rather than the rule. We review the major discussion points on compositionality from a usage-based point of view, taking both spoken and signed languages into account. In addition, we discuss theories that aim at accounting for the emergence of compositional language through processes of cultural transmission as well as the debate of whether animal communication systems exhibit compositionality. We argue for a view that emphasizes the analyzability of complex linguistic units, providing a template for accounting for the multimodal nature of human language.
Prof. Daniel Makowiecki have published an article in partnership with an international team. It’s titled Population dynamics of Baltic herring since the Viking Age revealed by ancient DNA and genomics. Abstract: The world’s oceans are currently facing major stressors in the form of overexploitation and anthropogenic climate change. The Baltic Sea was home to the first “industrial” fishery ∼800 y ago targeting the Baltic herring, a species that is still economically and culturally important today. Yet, the early origins of marine industries and the long-term ecological consequences of historical and contemporary fisheries remain debated. Here, we study long-term population dynamics of Baltic herring to evaluate the past impacts of humans on the marine environment. We combine modern whole-genome data with ancient DNA (aDNA) to identify the earliest-known long-distance herring trade in the region, illustrating that extensive fish trade began during the Viking Age. We further resolve population structure within the Baltic and observe demographic independence for four local herring stocks over at least 200 generations. It has been suggested that overfishing at Øresund in the 16th century resulted in a demographic shift from autumn-spawning to spring-spawning herring dominance in the Baltic. We show that while the Øresund fishery had a negative impact on the western Baltic herring stock, the demographic shift to spring-spawning dominance did not occur until the 20th century. Instead, demographic reconstructions reveal population trajectories consistent with expected impacts of environmental change and historical reports on shifting fishing targets over time. This study illustrates the joint impact of climate change and human exploitation on marine species as well as the role historical ecology can play in conservation and management policies.
Prof. Wacewicz and his team have prepared a research article entitled The adaptive significance of human scleral brightness: an experimental study. You can read it here!
Abstract: Homogeneously depigmented sclerae have long been proposed to be uniquely human—an adaptation to enable cooperative behaviour by facilitating interpersonal coordination through gaze following. However, recent evidence has shown that deeply pigmented sclerae also afford gaze following if surrounding a bright iris. Furthermore, while current scleral depigmentation is clearly adaptive in modern humans, it is less clear how the evolutionarily intermediate stages of scleral pigmentation may have been adaptive. In sum, it is unclear why scleral depigmentation became the norm in humans, while not so in sister species like chimpanzees, or why some extant species display intermediate degrees of pigmentation (as our ancestors presumably did at some point). We created realistic facial images of 20 individually distinct hominins with diverse facial morphologies, each face in the (i) humanlike bright sclera and (ii) generalised apelike dark sclera version. Participants in two online studies rated the bright-sclera hominins as younger, healthier, more attractive and trustworthy, but less aggressive than the dark-sclera hominins. Our results support the idea that the appearance of more depigmented sclerae promoted perceived traits that fostered trust, increasing fitness for those individuals and resulting in depigmentation as a fixed trait in extant humans.
Dr Adrian Wójcik and prof. Maria Lewicka have published an article titled Between discovery and exploitation of history: Lay theories of history and their connections to national identity and interest in history. Abstract: One of the distinctions in modern historiography is that between collective memory and history. Although ideal historical research is presented as objective and driven by the search for accuracy, collective memory is nearly always distorted by the current group’s needs. In the current study, we assess whether common people use this professional distinction and whether these two concepts are used by the general population. Our findings are based on several different lines of quantitative studies with a total sample size of 3949: two representative Polish samples, a study of the collective memory of Oświęcim inhabitants and one representative study of inhabitants of six Polish cities. The findings show that laypeople distinguish between three different forms of historical understanding, corresponding to the (1) realistic view of history (history as a search for truth), (2) instrumental view of history (history as a construction in the service of the group’s current needs) and (3) relativistic view of history (disbelief in the possibility of historical cognition). The meta-analysis of correlations revealed that instrumental lay theory was positively related to the nationalistic in-group identity that glorifies the in-group. By contrast, realistic theory was positively related to patriotism – a form of in-group attachment that is open to criticism. The realistic theory was positively related, whereas the instrumental view was negatively related to the expressed interest in history. Moreover, the instrumental view of history was positively related to the explicit denial of the value of historical heritage and a strong focus on the present.
Dawid Megger and Igor Wysocki have published an article Coercion, voluntary exchange, and the Austrian School of Economics in “Synthese”. You can read it here! Abstract: In this paper we analyse the concept of coerced exchange (and partly of voluntary exchange inasmuch as the absence of coercion is its necessary condition), which is of utmost importance to economic theory in general and to the Austrian School of Economics in particular. The subject matter literature normally assumes that a coerced action occurs under threat. Threats in turn can be studied from the perspective of speech act theory, which is concerned with the speaker’s intentions. Ultimately, our goal is to provide a descriptive (i.e. non-moralized) definitions of threat and coercion, based on the analysis of the coercer’s intentions. If successful, we would be in a position to present such an account of coerced and voluntary exchanges that is compatible with both speech act theory and the Austrian methodology. Although we focus on the Austrian School of Economics, we believe that our investigations might impact on economic theory in general. We also criticize a rights-based account of coercion employed in the research practice of some neo-Austrians and based on the libertarian ethic of property rights.
A new publication by dr Michael Pleyer has appeared in “Lingua” titled The role of interactional and cognitive mechanisms in the evolution of (proto)language(s). You can read it here!
Abstract: This paper discusses the role of interactional and cognitive mechanisms in the emergence of (proto)linguistic structures and the evolution of (proto)language(s). Both the social, interactive nature of human communication and the interactional timescale have received increasing attention in investigations of how structure emerges in language. This has also led to an increasing focus on the mechanisms involved in the dialogic co-construction of structure and meaning in interaction. These include ad hoc constructionalization, interactive alignment, conceptual pacts, reuse and modification, and local forms of entrenchment, routinisation and schematisation. Interactional and cognitive mechanisms like these do not only play a crucial role in the emergence of structure in modern languages. They can also help explain how the first (proto)constructions came into being in hominin interaction. Frequently re-occuring, temporary, local (proto)constructions acquired increasing degrees of entrenchment, which led to their subsequent diffusion throughout hominin communities. They were then subject to processes of conventionalisation and cumulative cultural evolution. This process is hypothesised to eventually have led to the gradual transition from protolanguage to language.
Dr Pramit Verma and Prof. Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk have published and article titled Local resilience for low-carbon transition in Poland: Frameworks, conditions and opportunities for Central European countries in”Sustainable Development”. LINK!
Abstract: Poland, with its objective of switching from a fossil-fuel base to renewable sources of energy, is a textbook example of an energy transition economy. In this review, the challenges and opportunities for local resilience were identified, followed by an in-depth analysis of Low Carbon Economy Plans (LCEP) in the 10 largest cities of Poland. The methodology included a bibliometric analysis of the peer-reviewed studies published from 2010 to 2022, along with K-means clustering (empirical analysis) of the selected Polish cities. The challenges and opportunities were classified into social (S), economic (E), institutional (I), political (P), technological (T) and environmental (EN) dimensions. Institutional and political dimensions were identified as having a relatively neglected niche in low-carbon transition research, necessitating an empirical analysis of LCEP at the city scale. Exploiting the knowledge base of traditional sustainable activities, understanding the power relations between the politics, stakeholders and industry elements, and knowledge-based governance were found vital for creating relevant policies. Three modes of development, multi-activity goals (MG), energy transition goals (EG), and transport goals (TG) were identified for increasing local resilience. The results illustrate the need to understand low-carbon policies and their impacts on both energy transitions and local resilience.
Dr hab. Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk and Dr Pramit Verma have wrote a research article entitled To know is to accept. Uncovering the perception of renewables as a behavioural trigger of rural energy transition. It was published in “Moravian Geographical Reports” You can read it here!
Abstract: Our research aims to reflect on rural communities’ awareness and perceptions of various energy sources, particularly focusing on renewable energies. We argue that there is an urgent need to expand the knowledge base on the perspectives of rural communities directly and indirectly affected by renewable energy installations. From an empirical point of view, our study focuses on the Lipno county in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship (Poland), where a relatively unique constellation of renewable energy and local community is emerging. Our findings indicate a wide awareness about renewable energies in the community, but a rather shallow, imbalanced, and outdated knowledge on potentials, advantages and disadvantages of individual locally available renewable energy sources was detected. To break deeply rooted carbon dependency and lock-in and to trigger mechanisms of change leading to more sustainable futures, practical, contextual, and place-based knowledge is essentially needed to shape responsive attitudes. We claim that personal experience of the effects of renewable energy installation (especially small-scale ones) can be a proxy for the change and scaling up. This is a key because it proves the leading role of an inclusive approach to developing renewable energy in rural areas. Locals undertake new energy investments, which is the basis of spatial (territorial) distribution justice – they not only bear the costs of operating new energy installations but also derive tangible benefits from renewables.
An article by Prof. Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk has been published in “The Antropocene Review”, titled Renewable energy creditors versus renewable energy debtors: Seeking a pattern in a sustainable energy transition during the climate crisis. You can read it here!
Abstract: Considering unpredictable and hastily evolving tipping points (like the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing climate crisis and the war in Ukraine), it is clear that sustainable energy transition and utilization of locally sourced renewable energies must be in the heart of both national, regional, and local energy systems. However, if we take a closer look at the actions undertaken at the local (communal) level, we see enormous diversity of patterns, prerequisites, and implications that drive and affect spatial deployment of renewable energies. Therefore, our research targets to better comprehend the question if individual communities are comparatively involved in the energy transition. We also ask whether the demand and supply of renewable energy is territorially balanced and how these differences (if any) can be justified. We are framing our research by the concepts of energy justice and ecological debt. We thoroughly explore and asses the renewable energy balance on the level of individual communities which is based on data on the installed power capacity potentials and energy consumption in local administration units in Poland (380). Spatial distribution and discrepancies in the deployment of the renewable energy creditors and the renewable energy debtors are detected. Noticeable disproportions were identified among communities where improved utilization of local potential of renewable energy could exceed energy demand (29% of communities). This result is contrasting with communities (71% of communities) that can be, on the other hand, classified as renewable energy debtors. We claim that insufficient support (institution, regulatory, and financial) for expanding local renewable energy systems is a clear barrier when adapting to the climate crisis by balancing the energy demand and supply at the local level.
Dr Michael Pleyer, prof. Przemysław Żywiczyński and dr Theresa Matzinger have published a new article in “Languages”, titled Pause Length and Differences in Cognitive State Attribution in Native and Non-Native Speakers. You can read it here!
Abstract: Speech pauses between turns of conversations are crucial for assessing conversation partners’ cognitive states, such as their knowledge, confidence and willingness to grant requests; in general, speakers making longer pauses are regarded as less apt and willing. However, it is unclear if the interpretation of pause length is mediated by the accent of interactants, in particular native versus non-native accents. We hypothesized that native listeners are more tolerant towards long pauses made by non-native speakers than those made by native speakers. This is because, in non-native speakers, long pauses might be the result of prolonged cognitive processing when planning an answer in a non-native language rather than of a lack of knowledge, confidence or willingness. Our experiment, in which 100 native Polish-speaking raters rated native and non-native speakers of Polish on their knowledge, confidence and willingness, showed that this hypothesis was confirmed for perceived willingness only; non-native speakers were regarded as equally willing to grant requests, irrespective of their inter-turn pause durations, whereas native speakers making long pauses were regarded as less willing than those making short pauses. For knowledge and confidence, we did not find a mediating effect of accent; both native and non-native speakers were rated as less knowledgeable and confident when making long pauses. One possible reason for the difference between our findings on perceived willingness to grant requests versus perceived knowledge and confidence is that requests might be more socially engaging and more directly relevant for interpersonal cooperative interactions than knowledge that reflects on partners’ competence but not cooperativeness. Overall, our study shows that (non-)native accents can influence which cognitive states are signaled by different pause durations, which may have important implications for intercultural communication settings where topics are negotiated between native and non-native speakers.