Photo: Danish Saroee

SCAS News - 1 October, 2021

Ceremony in Honour of the Pro Futura Scientia XVI Fellows Held at the Collegium

Last week, a ceremony in honour of the talented early-career scholars of the sixteenth generation of Pro
Futura Scientia Fellows was held at the Collegium. After a completely digital ceremony last time, it was
a delight to be able to offer this ceremony as a hybrid event with a small invited audience on-site in the
Thunberg Lecture Hall and with additional guests joining via Zoom.

To welcome a new generation of Pro Futura Fellows into the SCAS community as a whole, as well as
into the distinguished group of young researchers who have been admitted to the Pro Futura Scientia
Programme since 1999, is always a special and joyous occasion. This time was no exception. The four
newly admitted Fellows - Thor Berger (Lund University), Wally Vincente Cirafesi* (The Moody Theo-
logical Seminary of Chicago. Nominated by Lund University), Jennifer Mack (KTH Royal Institute of
Technology, Stockholm) and Ester Oras (University of Tartu) – were presented with diplomas and flow-
ers, before briefly introducing the research projects which they will embark upon as Pro Futura scholars.
A short musical interlude by Uppsala Choral Society, followed by a lecture by Professor Michael Goodhart
on the topic Scholarship In and For a Broken World rounded up the ceremony.

*Wally Vincente Cirafesi was participating via Zoom.

Below you will find brief summaries of the research plans:

Thor Berger (Department of Economic History, Lund University)
Research project: Intergenerational Mobility from the Past to the Present

Societies differ widely in the extent to which economic and social (dis)advantages are transmitted across
generations. Today, the Scandinavian countries are among the most mobile in the world, while countries
such as Britain or the United States exhibit significantly less intergenerational mobility. This research project
constructs and leverages historical and modern big data for Sweden and several other countries to study the
evolution of mobility across and within countries over the past two centuries. The project analyzes: i) the
historical origins and emergence of modern mobility regimes; ii) disparities in opportunity across cities and
regions and the role of local childhood environments in shaping our life outcomes; and iii) how times of indu-
strial upheaval—from the rise of the factory to the recent spread of industrial robots—has shaped opportunity
across generations.

Wally Vincente Cirafesi (Department of Biblical Studies and Theology, The Moody Theological Seminary
of Chicago. Nominated by Lund University)
Research project: Rewriting the History of Ancient Synagogues andJewish – Christian Relations in the Roman
and Byzantine East: The First Seven Centuries

By the time of the emergence of Islam in Palestine in the seventh century, after hundreds of years of religious
rhetoric from the mouths and pens of Christian literary elite, the concept of “the synagogue” had been firmly
constructed as an irreconcilable rival to “the church.” Although forged in antiquity, this totalizing portrait of
“the synagogue” has had remarkable staying power. It has penetrated centuries of modern scholarship, and
it continues to this day to function as the basic point of departure in historical research on the New Testament
and the so-called “parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity. Indeed, despite the recent growth
in synagogue studies as an academic discipline, it remains the case that precious little attention has been paid
to how the diverse institutional and material realities of synagogues impacted the formation of Jewish and
Christian identity and their interaction in the first seven centuries of the Common Era. The history of Jewish –
Christian relations in this period continues to be written within the faulty paradigm of “irreconcilable rivals,”
from the point of view of the ancients who were rhetorically and politically powerful. The main goal of my
project, therefore, is to rewrite this history from the bottom–up, from the perspective of on-the-ground––
and, archaeologically speaking, in-the- ground––social realities of ancient synagogues, in order to generate
new knowledge about the entangled and mutually influential early development of Judaism and Christianity.

Jennifer Mack (School of Architecture, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)
Research project: Public Modernism: Reports from the Welfare City

Public Modernism:Reports from the Welfare City offers new methodological approaches and produces
new paradigms for analyzing what is arguably the most significant and disparaged development in archi-
tecture and urban design of the 20th century – modernism – as used in housing projects across Europe.
Early and mid-20th century welfare states typically paired social and economic programs with the con-
struction of new neighborhoods: public initiatives in their financing, organization, and/or management and
modernist in their designs. I label them “Welfare Cities” to signify their expansive visions of national pro-
gress, their use of architecture as a tool of social engineering, and their conception as utopian New Towns
built from the ground up. Today, however, journalists and politicians argue for renewals or demolitions by
portraying them as “no-go zones” or even “ghettos," where residents live on the margins of society in “ugly”

As I explicitly counter these dystopian assessments (often based on speedy appraisals and limited information),
I craft a slow, interdisciplinary methodology to articulate an “ethnographic history” that rethinks both public
modernism and earlier epistemological traditions in its study. A comparative project, I link cases in Scandinavia,
France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and more to explore how the so-called “International Style” of modernism
nonetheless formed to the contours of specific national contexts, and I move along two interwoven thematic
trajectories: 1. Historicizing the construction and stigmatization of Welfare Cities across Europe and connecting
this to ongoing local debates about topics like modernism, segregation, renovation, privatization, and demolition,
and 2. Examining residents’ experiences of Welfare Cities through fieldwork, interviews, and ethnographic read-
ings of narratives about them in fiction, poetry, films, letters, songs, and beyond. My “reports” resituate Welfare
Cities as complicated, often-vibrant social, cultural, and material environments.

Ester Oras (Department of Archaeology, University of Tartu)
Research project: Dairy Diaries: Ancient Biomolecules Reveal the Deep History of Domesticated Ruminants
and their Products in the Eastern Baltic

The introduction of agriculture and adoption of domesticated animals was a revolutionising transition in the
history of humankind with an immense impact on our daily foodways (selection of meats and secondary-
products), living conditions (housing constructions, landscape management), but had also more ambivalent
side-effects like zoonotic diseases (tuberculosis, brucellosis), changes in bodily functions (microbiomes) and
even long-term genetic evolvement (e.g. lactose tolerance). My project unravels the arrival and spread of do-
mesticated ruminants in the eastern Baltic, and addresses the influence of these dietary changes on past health
conditions. The project combines archaeological material with anthropological sources and cutting-edge analy-
tical procedures from modern biomolecular techniques, by applying lipidomic, proteomic and genomic analysis
on archaeological pottery, human and animal remains. Through these proxies the scale, timing, pace as well as
exact species of early domesticates in the region will be demonstrated. As a further novelty, trials establishing
relationship between this dietary innovation and the development of health status in past populations will be im-
plemented. The project will provide rigid insights into understanding the arrival, function, character and impact
of early domesticates in the region, which plays a central role in the development of our overall wellbeing, agri-
cultural heritage and culinary traditions still today.


The Pro Futura Scientia Programme was initiated by SCAS and RJ in 1999 in order to provide optimal conditions
and an attractive career path for young, promising scholars, enabling them to pursue curiosity-driven research and
develop as researchers. Including the sixteenth generation of Pro Futura Scientia Fellows, 67 promising scholars
have been admitted to the programme.

Read more: Pro Futura Scientia History and Mission

Read more: Nominations and Selections

Read more: Pro Futura Scientia Fellows (1999 - present)