Points of Transition: Ovoo and the Ritual Remaking of Religious, Ecological, and Historical Politics in Inner Asia

Jacob Dalton
Isabelle Charleux

Ubiquitous on the landscape of contemporary Mongolia, Buryatia, Inner Mongolia, and Eastern Tibet/Qinghai, structures of stones or trees covered with scarves, skulls, steering wheel covers, and a staggering array of other objects known as ovoo have long marked sites where ritual, though often highly spontaneous, practices invoke the presence of immanent relations. Built and maintained by various publics, gatherings at ovoo have over past centuries been major sites of political action, where the identities of and relationships between more and less local shamans, lamas, imperial officials,...

Everyday writing in a literary town: Some rediscovered tablets from late antique Panopolis

Todd Hickey
Jean-Luc Fournet

Professors Fournet and Hickey are interested in the culture and society of an ancient town called Panopolis (modern Akhmim, about a 500km drive south of Cairo). In Late Antiquity (c. 300‒700 CE), Panopolis was a “city of letters” second only to Alexandria, and many of the works produced by its authors have been preserved. The documentation illuminating the socio-economic structures that nurtured these individuals, in contrast, is rather poor. Fournet and Hickey’s FBF project seeks to remedy this imbalance through the careful study of an extraordinary set of wooden writing tablets recently...

Electric Vehicle Deployment for Urban Residents: Policy and Lessons Learned between France and California

Daniel Farber
Yannick Perez

Berkeley Law's Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) and Université Paris SUD 11 will jointly organize a California-France conference at UC Berkeley Law on electric vehicle (EV) deployment, specifically lessons learned from France and California on expanding access to EVs among urban residents. Conference speakers will discuss best practices for deploying EV charging infrastructure for residents in multifamily dwellings, managing grid impacts from charging, and providing incentives, grants, rebates to encourage urban residents to purchase or lease EVs.


Congratulations to the 2023 FBF Grantees!

July 12, 2023
FBF is absoltuely delighted to sponsor 21 outstanding projects for 2023-24! Congratulations to the grantees!


Project span Applied Science, Engineering, Exact Science, Humanities and Social Science and many of the projects take an interdiscipinary approach. For a full overview of this year's funded projects, click here.

The FBF would like to...

Algebraic language and the algorithm: Art of thinking, thinking machines, and machines' thinking

Massimo Mazzotti
Giovanna Cifoletti

The pervasiveness and relative invisibility of algorithms in our social and scientific life raise urgent questions and reveal new challenges. Our project aims to investigate current technological and social transformations from the privileged point of view of a long-term historical perspective, which traces the trajectory of automation and quantification back to the development of algebra and algebraic thinking during the European Renaissance. Tracing the genealogy of "algorithmic thinking" will make it possible to identify technical and semantic continuities, discontinuities, and...

Sound Waves: Virginia Woolf's Resonance

Elizabeth Abel
Claire Davison

Our project brings together French and American scholars of Virginia Woolf to explore the resonance of her work across the boundaries of language, history, medium, and nation. We join the current surge of critical interest in what are often called "sound studies" and that Woolf called the "waves in the mind” that reverberate below the frequencies of semantic specificity. In addition to deepening our understanding of Woolf's "auditory imagination" (a phrase we borrow from her friend T.S. Eliot), we seek to gain a better understanding of the formal and philosophical porosity of sound...

The function and historical evolution of augments in the Bantu languages

Peter Jenks
Mark Van de Velde

This project aims at gaining insight into the augment, a mysterious grammatical element found in the Bantu languages of Africa. The role of the augment has been compared to that of a definite article in English or French, but this comparison is at best an approximation. We will approach the topic from the different theoretical and methodological perspectives of synchronic generative grammar and historical linguistics.


Translation of Poetry: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Timothy Hampton
Daniel Henkel

In recent years scholars of the humanities and social sciences have become increasingly interested in the process of translation. Long thought a “step child” of humanistic study—something humanists did in the margins of their other work—it has now become clear that both the practice and the theory of translation are central to the role of the humanities as we move into an increasingly multi-cultural global culture, and as new technologies reshape how we use language. This project involves organizing a workshop to study the intersection of literary form and history--manifested in...

Probability and Meaning

John MacFarlane
Paul Egré

Our objective is to foster collaborative work between UC Berkeley and the Institut Jean-Nicod through two joint workshops, one in Berkeley, one in Paris. The workshops will be centered on the discussion of the increasing role that probabilistic modeling is taking in our understanding of linguistic meaning. Researchers at both institutions have been centrally interested in different aspects of this topic, and we think it would be fruitful to pool our thinking on complementary issues.


Crossroads of Knowledge: the Republic of Letters and the First Globalization (17th-18th centuries)

Diego Pirillo
Vincenza Perdichizzi

Drawing on the combined expertise of faculty and graduate students in the humanities at UC Berkeley and the University of Strasbourg, the project studies the "crossroads of knowledge" (carrefours des savoirs) that connected the Republic of Letters in the age of the first globalization. Moving away from the traditional focus on capital cities, we turn our attention to smaller "contact zones," such as ports and frontier towns that enabled the circulation knowledge across linguistic, cultural and religious barriers. The France-Berkeley fund will create an...