01/04/2020

Meet Daniele Salerno, Italian MSCA researcher in Argentina


Profile:

  • Name: Daniele Salerno
  • Country of origin: Italy
  • Home institution: Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Host country and institution in LAC: Argentina, Universidad de Buenos Aires
  • Acronym (title) of MSCA project: MEMORIGHTS
  • Field of research: Social sciences & Humanities/Memory studies

Interview:

Could you tell us a bit about your experience within your research field?

I obtained my PhD in Semiotic Studies at University of Bologna in 2009. During my PhD I worked in particular on the cultural response to terror: how societies elaborate past traumas and events. From 2009 to 2018 I worked in the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory and Traumas – TraMe at University of Bologna, under the direction of Patrizia Violi, focusing my research interests on cultural memory at large. In 2016 I took part in the IRSES project “MEMOSUR | A Lesson for Europe: Memory, Trauma and Reconciliation in Chile and Argentina” (the IRSES funding scheme was replaced by the RISE funding scheme in Horizon 2020), spending a period of research at the University of Cordoba (Argentina). In Argentina, I started investigating the role of activism in memory studies also by comparing models of memory in different cultural contexts. During that research stay, I met Emilio Crenzel, my current supervisor in Buenos Aires: our collaboration was very fruitful since the beginning and opened an exciting research perspective on memory of the dictatorship, democracy and sexual diversity. This pushed me to elaborate a research project on sexual diversity and cultural memory and to connect it with the rising field of research on cultural memory and activism, working with my current supervisor Ann Rigney at the University of Utrecht. To connect my research on Semiotics and Memory in Italy with the important work of Ann Rigney and her team in the ERC project “Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe – REACT” is a very exciting and enriching experience.

Why did you decide to apply to MSCA? How would you say the experience contributed to your personal and professional growth?

I decided to apply to MSCA for having the possibility to develop a research project of my own, designing it since the beginning. As I have only recently started the project (September 1, 2019) I think it is still premature to say how it is contributing to my own personal and professional growth, although I can already say that my starting 3 months in Buenos Aires were incredibly intense and enriched significantly my background.

What would you say the biggest challenge in the application process was? How did you overcome it?

It is very difficult to imagine and plan very carefully – in terms of timing and financial needs – a three-year-long project to be started after 12-18 months from the submission. Suggestions from and conversations with colleagues and mentors were pivotal.

From your experiences, how does the research environment in Latin America differ from that in Europe, if at all? And, how do you think EURAXESS LAC can further promote research collaborations between Europe and Latin America & the Caribbean?

Unfortunately, I think I still cannot answer to this question. I arrived here in Buenos Aires in summer (December 2019) and when I was supposed to start all the activities at university with the end of the summer break (March 2020), everything was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, I will be able to answer to this question in one year or so.

What made you come to Argentina and how did you find your LAC host institution?

This idea came after my participation in the MEMOSUR IRSES project (coordinator University of Bologna, director Patrizia Violi) in 2016, in which I spent one month at the University of Cordoba in Argentina. During that research stay, I personally wrote to my current Argentinean supervisor, Emilio Crenzel, because I read his work and I got interested in his theoretical and methodological perspective. We started discussing possible projects on aspects on cultural memory in Argentina that are neglected in the literature both in Latin America and in Europe and in particular on memory of the sexual dissidence/difference.

Do you have any advice for young researchers based in Europe who are considering applying for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship to undertake a research stay in LAC?

More than suggestions I tell you what was crucial in my experience.

First, when I identified researchers whose work could be fundamental for developing mine, I immediately wrote them without hesitation. That’s what I did with my current supervisors – Ann Rigney and Emilio Crenzel – and it worked very well. My participation in the IRSES project MEMOSUR and my networking activity in the TraMe center at the University of Bologna were also strategic for the same reason.

Second: I built a personal network of active supporters, colleagues, mentors, administrative staff both in Europe and Argentina. This was crucial for developing the project. I had a lot of support and help from other MSC fellows (including from STEM-related fields), some of them becoming also new friends and collaborators. They were also my reality principle, telling me when I was too ambitious and when my perseverance was turning into a form of not useful stubbornness.

Third: don’t underestimate administrative, financial and bureaucratic issues. To write a project and to set a collaboration between universities from different nations and continents need to make different legal, administrative and financial frameworks working efficiently together. That’s not so easy and it is a time consuming but strategic task. It is vital for the feasibility of the project and also for implementing it without spending too much time and energy in fixing unexpected issues.

Finally, I worked and failed a lot before getting the fellowship. Be patient, perseverant and realistic.

In your opinion, how important is incoming mobility to internationalise LAC science and why?

The aim of my project is indeed to integrate into the European memory studies field a perspective from the Global South. During the MEMOSUR IRSES project, I learnt that the theoretical, methodological and also historical perspectives from Latin America shed light on issues that are not adequately developed in Europe. So, I think that the contribution of LAC science for Europe would be crucial, because it would add important ways of approaching and addressing social issues and problems that are not usual for European scholars but that are extremely original and powerful.

Finally, what’s next for you?

As I said, the project started only in September and I moved to Argentina only in December. So, now I am implementing the project, hoping that the pandemic will end soon.

* MSCA IRSES projects are the predecessors of MSCA RISE projects.

You can contact Daniele here.