Aaron Butts Receives ERC Consolidator Grant

Aaron Michael Butts, past Member (2019–20) and Visitor (2020–21) in the School of Historical Studies, has been awarded a consolidator grant by the European Research Council for his project entitled "Beyond Influence (BeInf): The Connected Histories of Ethiopic and Syriac Christianity." The BeInf project has been funded for almost two million Euros over the course of five years.

Butts will direct a team of scholars, including two post-doctoral researchers and two more-senior research fellows, who will interrogate the connected histories of Ethiopic and Syriac Christianity through a multi-disciplinary approach that brings together methods traditionally disconnected, including art history, linguistics, manuscript studies, philology, textual studies, and history. The BeInf project is positioned to make significant, long-lasting contributions to the field of Ethiopic Studies, both in content and in concept, while also serving as a paradigm-shifting model for other projects in the humanities addressing connected histories with all their nuance, complexity, and texture through a multi-disciplinary approach.

Butts Aksum
Leah Comeau
Aaron Butts in Aksum, Ethiopia

One of the research fellows of the BeInf project will be Simcha Gross, incoming Member (2022–23) in the School of Historical Studies. In the context of the BeInf project, Gross and Butts will collaborate on the so-called Nagran Episode, in which the sixth-century Aksumite ruler Kaleb intervened on behalf of Syriac Christians who were allegedly being persecuted in the Arabian Peninsula.

This year's recipients also include past Members Marijn van Putten (2021), Karim Alexander Adiprasito (2015–16), Raphaël Beuzart-Plessis (2013–15), and Antti Knowles (2013).

The European Research Council (ERC), set up by the EU in 2007, is the premiere European funding organization for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best creative researchers of any nationality and age to run projects based in Europe.