Justyna Olko

Prof. dr hab. Justyna Olko – historian, sociolinguist and ethnologist; Director of the Center for Research and Practice in Cultural Continuity Research on Cultural Continuity at the Faculty of „Artes Liberales” of the University of Warsaw; specializes in the study of cross-cultural, socio-political and linguistic history of Mesoamerica with particular emphasis on the Nahua and linguistic and cultural contact; she also deals with the broadly understood issues of minority languages, linguistic and cultural diversity, traumatization and agency of indigenous groups in historical and contemporary perspectives and the importance of local languages for the well-being and health of their users. Prof. Olko is actively involved in the revitalization of endangered ethnic minority languages, including supporting grassroots revitalization initiatives undertaken by local communities. She is the first woman in Poland and the first representative of the humanities and social sciences to be awarded an ERC grant twice. In 2012, she received the first ERC Grant for the Polish humanities for the implementation of the project „Europe and America in Contact: A Multidisciplinary Study of Cross-Cultural Transfer in the New World Across Time”  concerning mechanisms of cultural transmission between Europe and America from the sixteenth century through the colonial period to the present day. In 2020, she received an ERC Consolidator grant for the project „Multilingual worlds – neglected histories. Uncovering their emergence, continuity and loss in past and present societies„.

In the years 2014-2016 she coordinated the project „Engaged humanities in Europe” (EC Twinning Programme, Horizon 2020), which was recognized as the „success story” of the European Commission. Justyna Olko, PhD, is also a laureate of the Focus and TEAM programs of the Foundation for Polish Science, under which she is currently implementing the project Language as a cure: linguistic vitality as a tool for psychological well-being, health and economic sustainability. In November 2020, she won the Falling Walls 2020 competition, in the humanities and social sciences category, for  „tearing down the walls between the academy and local communities for linguistic diversity”. Author and co-author of several books, including  Insignia of Rank in the Nahua World  (University Press of Colorado, 2014),  Dialogue with Europe, Dialogue with the Past. Colonial Nahua and Quechua Elites in Their Own Words  (University Press of Colorado & University of Utah, 2018),  Revitalizing Endangered Languages. A Practical Guide  (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and  Loans in Colonial and Modern Nahuatl. A Contextual Dictionary  (Mouton de Gruyter, 2020). In 2013, she was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta and received the Burgen Fellowship Academia Europaea; since 2018 she has been a member of the Council of the Polish National Science Centre.


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