Übersicht der seit 2016 geförderten Projekte

Funded Projects 2017

The following proposals for joint research projects between Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Universidade de São Paulo were selected in the second phase of this research initiative program.

(1/2017) The evolutionary morphology of the venom gland in pitvipers

HU PI: Johannes Müller (Professor, Faculty of Life Sciences, Institute of Biology)

USP PI: Hussam Zaher (Professor, Museu de Zoologia)

Abstract: The venomous and medically important pitvipers of the Bothrops jararaca-complex are distributed along the Atlantic coast of Brazil and show highly diverse life histories, including a dietary shift during an individual’s lifespan. Juveniles initially hunt for invertebrates and small amphibians and reptiles, whereas adults prefer small to medium sized mammals and birds. Previous studies suggest that also venom composition changes during ontogeny, but so far it remains unclear if also the morphology of the venom gland, especially the structure of the secretory cells, changes from juveniles to adults. Within the here presented collaborative proposal, PI’s Johannes Müller (HU Berlin) and Hussam Zaher (Universidade de São Paulo) will analyze the morphology of venom gland soft tissue morphology using the novel method of diffusible iodine-based contrast-enhanced computed tomography (diceCT). The method allows for investigating ontogenetic changes in morphology of the secretory cells with respect to shape, volume and orientation, but without having to destroy the respective specimen. This way it will be possible to assess for the first time if changes in toxin composition in venomous snakes are also accompanied by morphological changes, and if different dietary specializations cause different types of phenotypic response. The project will increase collaboration between HU Berlin and Universidade de São Paulo, with high potential for future, externally funded joint projects.


(2/2017) Interdisciplinary study for Radiomics application to lung cancer diagnosis and prognosis

HU PI: Ralf Reulke (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Computer Science)

USP PI: Paulo Mazzoncini de Azevedo Marques (Professor, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto)

Abstract: Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths, with a 5-year overall survival rate of only 15%. The prognosis of lung cancer is still poor and varies markedly according to the tumor staging at diagnosis. Tumor stage at presentation, as designated by the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) system, is the most important prognostic factor and may determine therapy. However, recent studies showed that clinical decision making may be influenced by other tumor aspects, such as, the histological subtype of the lesion. Moreover, some works showed that computed tomography (CT) image features also may influence the prognosis and response to therapy. However, those features are typically described semi-quantitatively or subjectively, qualitatively (heterogeneity, spiculation, attenuation and so on). Radiomics is an emerging field that converts imaging data into a high dimensional feature space using a large number of extracted data-characterization algorithms. The rationale of radiomics is that we could obtain a more comprehensive characterization of the underlying tumor phenotypes by extracting a large number of imaging features, which may ultimately correlate with clinical outcomes. Deep learning (DL) is making major advances in pattern recognition and machine intelligence problems. DL methods allow a machine to be fed with raw data and to automatically discover the representations needed for classification. The essence of deep learning is to compute hierarchical features of the observational data, where the higher-level features are defined from lower-level ones. One of the most used DL methods are the convolutional neural networks (CNN), due to their capacity of process data that come in the form of multiple arrays, such as images. Based on what was previously presented, the main goal of this proposal is to start an international interdisciplinary collaboration focused on investigating the potential of deep learning-based radiomics analysis to improve malignant pulmonary tumor diagnosis, lung cancer patient’s prognosis, and treatment decision making.


(3/2017) Evolution and Development of Limb Diversity in Salamanders

HU PI: Nadia Fröbisch (Professor, Faculty of Life Sciences, Institute of Biology)

USP PI: Tiana Kohlsdorf (Professor, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto - Biology)

Abstract: The joint research program focuses on a hallmark in tetrapod body plan evolution – the limb. We aim to investigate the evolution and development of limb diversity in salamanders, using an integrative approach that combines phylogenetic and morphological approaches with analyses of molecular signatures in enhancers of genes central to digit development and limb regeneration. While the earliest known tetrapods were polydactylus, exhibiting six to eight fingers/toes, more recent lineages of tetrapods established a pattern of five digits. Conversely, many independent tetrapod lineages, including lizards, turtles, salamanders, frogs and birds have undergone digit reductions, exhibiting less than five digits. Therein, salamanders stand out in this scenario with a considerable diversity of limb morphologies that includes multiple independent events of digit reductions in different groups with all possible variations on digit numbers. Moreover, salamanders show a reversed, i.e. preaxial polarity in digit development in contrast to postaxial polarity in all other tetrapods, and extremely high regenerative capacities of the limbs. In this context, it is interesting that some salamander taxa are thought to lack the capacity to regenerate their limbs. Strikingly, the taxa suggested to lack regenerative capacities are those with strongly reduced digits and limbs, but the potential evolutionary and mechanistic connections remain elusive and will be explored in the joint project. The collaboration innovates by integrating phenotypic and genotypic dimensions in the study of the evolution and development of limb diversity in a vertebrate group that is unique in terms of morphological patterns, developmental processes and regenerative capacity of limbs.


(4/2017) Critical Theory Goes Global: Transfers, (Mis-)Understandings and Perceptions since 1960

HU PI: Nenad Stefanov (Doctor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities I, Department of Philosophy)

USP PI: Luiz Sérgio Repa (Professor, Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: In light of the critique of universalist approaches in the last two decades by cultural and post-colonial studies, on the one hand, and the growth of anti-democratic ethnonational particularist movements, on the other, a reexamination of universalist, cosmopolitan philosophical concepts and methodologies has acquired renewed relevance.

In order to elaborate the possibilities of a reformulated universalist critical theory of society, and to reflect on both its inadequacies and indispensability, it seems promising to focus on the transfer, adaptation and modification of ideas in different social and historical contexts. The project will firstly center on transfers of concepts in Eastern Europe and South America from the 1960s until the 1990s. In both contexts the reception of Frankfurt School Critical Theory played an important role and served as a key point of departure for the development of concepts of civil society. Such research seems still confined within area studies or primarily as the history of reception in a one-way direction. Our aim is to broaden and overcome such frameworks in an interdisciplinary direction. Using this initial comparison as a point of departure, the participants will then elaborate a broader research project to pose such questions in a global dimension. The aim of both workshops at HU Berlin and at USP is to provide the theoretical basis for a successful application for a cooperative research project.


(5/2017) Urban Design as a Green-Key to Drive the Development of Compact and Resilient Cities

HU PI: Dagmar Haase (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Geography Department)

USP PI: Demóstenes Ferreira da Silva Filho (Professor, Science Forest Department)

Abstract: In the past few decades, the discussion about compact cities as a paradigm to achieve urban sustainability has grown substantially. However, studies worldwide have shown a negative relationship between urban density and tree cover or available green spaces. This scenario causes a decrease of ecosystem services provided in cities, and also hinders an establishment of wildlife species that may contribute to human wellbeing. Thus, facing the challenge to conciliate increasing urban density and stock of green spaces is essential for urban resilience and quality of life. Therefore, we aim to investigate how urban design can enhance green space cover and connectivity, as well as greater biodiversity across different types of highdensity neighborhoods. We address seven urban design typologies that frequently occur in large cities. The neighbourhoods chosen to represent each typology constitute urban landscape units (ULU's) and their selection criteria are the largest tree canopy and green space cover, and highest urban density rates found in each representative typology within three urban areas: Berlin (Germany), São Paulo and Federal District (both in Brazil). We will use geopraphic information system (GIS) tools to manage and analyze all spatial data and generate outputs. In each typology we will evaluate three ULU’s (totalizing 21 samples) in terms of green space composition and configuration, and biodiversity. The size, shape and distribution of green spaces will be measured by landscape ecology metrics in Fragstats®. Finally, the urban biodiversity will be measured based on statistical analysis of avifauna survey outcomes. The comparison of bird assemblages in different locations will be done by classifying birds in the following ecological groups: urban adapters, urban exploiters and urban sensitive/avoiders and calculating their percentage of composition, richness, and relative abundance in each ULU. The results will generate novel findings about how urban form impacts green infrastructure and biodiversity in cities with higher densities. The research will contribute to integrate the practices of urban design, landscape planning and urban ecology, seeking a comprehensive and interdisciplinary understanding of the linkages between them. Furthermore, the knowledge produced will help the development of public policies for urban development and regeneration, through the recommendation of high-performance urban design guidelines in terms of green space quality and urban compactness.


(6/2017) Jewish Central Europe

HU PI: Liliana Ruth Feierstein (Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Cultural/Jewish Studies)

USP PI: Luis S. Krausz (Professor, Jewish Studies)

Abstract: This project aims to trace the presence of a cultural construction named as "Central Europe" in the testimonies of Jewish exiles and in their communities, in the thinking of different philosophers, sociologists and historians, in literary texts of Jewish writers in exile, in the Jewish press and in community documents of the Latin American exile. The hypothesis guiding these studies with a transdisciplinary and transnational orientation states that the direct reference to Central Europe in testimonies, historical documents and theoretical reflections, and the fictionalization of myth, utopia or nostalgia corresponding to that vanished territory, can be understood as a Jewish response to their existential condition as a cultural minority and, later on, as a minority in exile. Three major topics intertwine in the research: the question of language, the lack of homeland and the loss of an European identity built on different assumptions of the hegemonic narrative – a counter-history woven from the margins of an identity based on language as an alternative territory.


(7/2017) Medientheater at HU and the Cinema and Arts Spaces at USP: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Scenic Knowledge

HU PI: Florian Leitner (Doctor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Institute of media studies and music studies)

USP PI: Patricia Moran (Doctor, Department of Cinema, Radio and TV)

Abstract: Medientheater at HU and the Cinema's and Arts' Spaces at USP: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Scenic Knowledge aims to expand the cooperation between HU and USP through their arts, cinema and performance spaces – with the intention of establishing these spaces in Berlin and São Paulo as upfront venues for investigation into a currently emerging field of scholarship: the epistemology of aesthetics, otherwise discussed under the label of “artistic research”. To this end, new epistemological approaches to art-based research will be explored in workshops that encompass both scholarly discussions and artistic presentations. The workshops are going to focus on the heuristic surplus value of media performance, i.e. on examining what kind of insights can be gained from an artistic involvement with the culture and technology of historical and contemporary media that are not accessible to purely theoretical forms of research. To this end, a substantial desideratum of the current discussion about “artistic research” is going to be addressed: the fundamental difference between scholarly knowledge on the one hand and aesthetic knowledge on the other. In order to examine this difference, an expanded notion of the scene is going to be applied. Based on this, aesthetic knowledge can be identified as scenical knowledge, as opposed to the rhetoric knowledge produced by scholarly discourse. This perspective allows for a concept of aesthetic knowledge that is no longer based on human experience exclusively.


(8/2017) Creating a playful and critical cultural agora: A new protocol for experiencing museums worldwide

HU PI: Wolfgang Schäffner (Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Exzellenzcluster Bild Wissen Gestaltung)

USP PI: Martin Grossmann (Professor, Instituto de Estudos Avançados da USP)

Abstract: The proposed project is a collaboration between the Institute of Advanced Studies (IEA) at the USP in Sao Paulo and The Excellence Cluster Image Knowledge Gestaltung (BWG) of the Humboldt University. Both are dedicated to interdisciplinary research and experts in methods of transforming and integrating different forms of knowledge.

A medium term objective is to create an exciting new protocol for visiting and experiencing museums worldwide. Thus, the main goal of this collaboration at this initial stage is to develop an executive project that will guide the modelling of this multidimensional agora, an augmented environment for the encounter and exchange of a plurality of cosmologies, knowledge and experiences around a museum such as the Humboldt Forum. As we see it, a virtual agora is an essential part in regard of the concept of Global Museum, a cultural device with multidimensional layers that seek to go beyond its everyday visitors and reach those that usually do not visit museums. A virtual tool, like the one we aim to develop, could open endless possibilities for cultural institutions in particular in relation to a ‘global’ public.

The Global Museum is not only guided by current and traditional research in museum studies and related fields but, more specifically, wants to be engaged with areas that have emerged in the academic landscape more recently, such as cultural mediation, cultural studies, interactive narratives, game studies, game design and gamification.  It is willing to find new ways of motivation and social engagement that will generate other forms of museum experiences and cultural interplay.

In order to achieve this goal the research group Fórum Permanente from the IEA and gamelab.berlin from the BWG, will exchange knowledge and experience through four workshops, two of them to be given in São Paulo and two in Berlin to conceptualize and design a protocol for the virtual agora we’re proposing. Ultimately this seed project has the potential to kick-start promising concepts that could become fully funded projects.


Funded Projects 2016

Seven projects were selected for funding in the first call of the profile partnership between Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Universidade de São Paulo

(1/2016) Characterization of Rhodopsin-guanylyl-cyclases from Blastocladiomycete fungi for application as novel optogenetic tools

HU PI: Peter Hegemann (Professor, Faculty of Life Sciences, Institute of Biology)
USP PI: Suely L. Gomes (Professor, Department of Biochemistry)

Abstract: Channelrhodopsin, which was discovered and described as a light‐gated ion channel in the Hegemann laboratory, has revolutionized the field of neuroscience over the past decade by enabling researchers to specifically activate selected neurons in a large ensemble of neuronal cells with short light flashes, a technology now called "Optogenetics." However, though highly desirable, the inactivation of specific cells using moderate or low light intensities is not yet possible. The rhodopsin‐guanylyl‐cyclase (BeRhGC) of the fungus Blastocladiella emersonii recently discovered in the laboratory of Suely Gomes offers an elegant solution to this problem. Moreover, RhGC is a totally novel and uncharacterized sensory photoreceptor, and the first member of an enzyme rhodopsin family has been already roughly characterized by the Gomes and Hegemann Laboratories whereas other members or this novel family urgently await in‐depth characterization. Accordingly, the goal 4 of the proposal is to obtain a comprehensive understanding of these novel photoreceptors, and to determine its functionality for broad application in optogenetics and other research fields. The project is subdivided into six objectives. The first objective (USP) is to identify more RhGC homologues in a variety of fungi more or less related to the BeRhGC already characterized in two preliminary studies of the Gomes and the Hegemann group (Avelar et al. 2014; Scheib et al. 2015). This requires growth of the fungi, isolation and sequencing of DNA, DNA‐Sequence analysis and computational comparison of other fungi. As a second approach, we propose to continue the characterization of a CGN K+ channel that we found in B.emersonii, and which is most probably involved in the phototaxis response of the fungus. We intend to use a series of inhibitors of this kind of channel and investigate the phototaxis response of the fungus. In this objective we also intend investigate another probable component of the phototaxis response, which is a putative cGMP‐phosphodiesterase that we are characterizing in B.emersonii. We intend to check its specificity towards cGMP versus cAMP and investigate its effect in the phototaxis response by the use of specific inhibitors. The third approach is the characterization and engineering of RhGC in cell lines and neurons as well as coexpression of RhGC with a cGMP‐gated K+ channel to develop a "Light‐Hypopolarizer" for cell inactivation. The fourth objective is to understand the dynamics of RhGC using a variety of biophysical technologies including time resolved UV‐vis, FTIR, and Raman and EPR spectroscopy. A fifth objective is the generation of crystals for X‐ray crystallography and the development of a three dimensional RhGC model. This objective also includes the production of 3D crystals of the two modules, Rh and GC, separately, and solve at the end the 3D‐structure of the entire protein. The sixth and final objective is the computer‐aided conversion of RhGC into a rhodopsin‐phosphodiesterase (RhPDE) for downregulation of the second messenger cGMP and/or cAMP using light. The ultimate outcome will be a detailed understanding of a novel class of sensory photoreceptors including knowledge of rhodopsin dynamics and the mechanism of cyclase activation. Hence, the MERA project will open new doors for light‐controlled enzymology with broad optogenetic application in cell biology and the neurosciences. The german part of the project will be financed via SPP 1665 and SPP 1926 by the german research foundation (DFG). The brazilian part will be financed by the brazilian research
agencies FAPESP and CNPq.


(2/2016) Construction and operation of the Middle Size Telescope of the Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory

HU PI: Thomas Lohse (Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Physics)
USP PI: Luiz Vitor de Souza Filho (Professor, São Carlos Institute of Physics)

Abstract: This research project aims to provide the means for the participation of scientists from HU and USP in the efforts to design, construct and test the Medium-Size Telescopes (MST) of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) Observatory. CTA is an international collaboration with more than a thousand members from about 30 countries which intends to construct a new generation of ground gamma ray telescopes to study astroparticle physics among other subjects of astrophysical interest. The main subject of this project is the improvement of the CSS of the MST, which is a sophisticated mechanical structure that holds the sensitive camera in position (see figures 2 and 3 above). Besides that, this project is seen as the seed for future analysis of the CTA data concerning fundamental physics searches such as dark matter and Lorentz Invariance Violation. The first version of the CSS was elaborated, studied and prototyped in Brazil under the coordination of the USP team in this project. The CSS was installed in the MST prototype telescope in Berlin and tested by the HU team. The southern site of the CTA Observatory is planned to have 25 MSTs and the northern site is going to host 15 MSTs. Presently, CTA is entering the per-production phase in which roughly 10% of the telescopes is going to be installed as a last test and validation before the final series production commences. The pre-production phase is starting this year and is planned to last 2 years. Three MST telescopes are going to be built in the the southern site of CTA in Chile and the HU and USP teams are going to participate in all phases: redesign, tests, installation and calibration. This is the scope of this proposal in which the HU and USP collaboration is expected to be very fruitful and important for the accomplishment of the ambitious goals for the MST sub-project for CTA.


(3/2016) Developing novel nanotechnology-based approaches to investigate insect vision: Implications for sustainable pest control

HU PI: Thomas Döring (Doctor, Faculty of Life Sciences, Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences)
USP PI: Frank H. Quina (Professor, Department of Fundamental Chemistry)

Abstract: This project brings together groups with a mutual interest in the biological role of plant pigments and colors and integrates knowledge from the disciplines of applied entomology, vision science, photochemistry, spectroscopy and nanoscience in order to create a novel insect trapping approach that will enable us to close a major knowledge gap in the understanding of insect pest behavior and visual perception. Insect pests contribute to substantial losses of agricultural production. Effective control of these pests is therefore a task of rucial significance for global food security. Measures to control pest insects need to be sustainable and to have little negative impact on the environment. One environmentally friendly approach for the control of insect pests is to disturb their host finding behavior by manipulating the visual cues that elicit crop colonization. A second approach uses colored traps to monitor pest populations in order to optimize the timing of pest control measures. Both approaches depend critically on an understanding of the insects’ visual capabilities. In particular, these methods can only be successfully applied if the insects’ behavioral response to defined visual stimuli can be accurately predicted. However, for most plant-eating (herbivorous) insect species, our understanding of their visually-guided foraging is currently limited. A major knowledge gap refers to the question of how pest insects respond to ultraviolet (UV) reflectance. This is due to the technical difficulty of creating, by the use of conventional pigments, visual stimuli for insects in which the UV reflectance (300-400 nm) can be independently varied with respect to the reflectance in the human-visible spectral region (400-700 nm). In this collaborative project, we propose to develop novel prototype insect traps that use the human-visible color of nanomaterials combined with appropriate UV-absorbing materials to produce a range of colors in which the reflectances in the human-visible and UV regions of the electromagnetic spectrum can be varied independently. The traps will be field-tested for durability and constancy of the reflectance spectrum and the trapping efficiencies for aphids (the target insect pest in this project) compared in field tests with those of conventional traps. The results should permit the design and fabrication of traps tailored to the insect’s visual perception system and will contribute to the development of working models for the role of UV reflection in the visual perception of insect pests.


(4/2016) New Consumer Images and the Role of Financial Services Law

HU PI: Stefan Grundmann (Professor, Faculty of Law)
USP PI: Ignacio Maria Poveda Velasco (Professor, Faculty of Law)

Abstract: Today, one of the most active debates of grand concepts in the area of consumer law is that of new and more differentiated consumer images emerging. At the same time, financial services law has often proven over the last decades to develop particular dynamics also for private law more generally speaking, both at the national and supranational level. The question at the centre of the research agenda is therefore whether with respect to ‘new consumer images’, financial services law does not play – again – the role of the prime catalyst for development. Brazil and Germany/EU are a particularly interesting couple for comparison given the high importance of consumer law for the development of contract law in both countries/regions while, conversely, the development is also highly diverse in the main assumptions and institutional choices made in Brazil and in Europe/Germany. The impact of these differences may affect the interplay between the potential of freedom and innovations on the one hand and protection required on the other, which is at the centre of our research agenda. One core question in this respect is whether protecting those who act in a boundedly rational way does not take chances away from those who act in a rational way or does not create costs which are to be carried by all while the added protection is profited from most by the richest and best informed consumers.


(5/2016) Accountability in Law and Sustainable Development

HU PI: Philipp Dann (Professor, Faculty of Law)
USP PI: Diogo Coutinho (Professor, Faculty of Law)

Abstract: Accountability is increasingly considered a key factor in achieving sustainable development and is likely to dominate debates about global governance in the years to come. Our project aims to lay the foundation for a longer-term research collaboration between HU and USP that inquires into the relationship between, law, sustainable development and accountability. It will bring together ten researchers, five from each university, representing three different disciplines, for two intensive workshops in Berlin and in Sao Paulo, resulting in a common publication and funding application for a follow-up project. Thematically, the project is located in the broader law and development scholarship and takes as its point of departure the United Nations “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs), applicable to both Germany and Brazil for the period from 2015 to 2030. The focus will be on two particularly relevant and interdependent policy areas, climate change and global health governance. Conceptually, the project will approach the nexus of law and development through the lens of “accountability”, which has emerged as an interdisciplinary concept that cuts across legal systems, levels of governance and various disciplines. Methodologically, the participants share the ‘law-in-context’ approach to legal studies, combining doctrinal analysis with empirical legal and ethnological studies, economic approaches and political theory. The proposed project can build on a web of previous collaborations among the participants, including a conference on law and development in 2014 and two kick-off meetings in Sao Paulo in 2016 where this application was prepared. To ensure the sustainability of the collaboration in the longer term, the project includes researchers at all career levels and is designed to complement pre-existing plans to further institutionalize interdisciplinary legal research at both universities. The HU-USP funds will be devoted largely to travel expenses for the two workshops in Berlin and Sao Paulo. Given the academic interest and political momentum generated by the SDGs and international initiatives on climate change and global health, the project has significant potential for acquiring additional funding from institutions like the Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento in Sao Paulo or the Volkswagen Foundation and Federal Ministries in Germany.


(6/2016) A cross-linguistic investigation of the role of number and gender in nominal expressions

HU PI: Artemis Alexiadou (Professor, Faculty of Arts and Humanities II, Department of English and American Studies)
USP PI: Marcelo Barra Ferreira (Professor, Department of Linguistics)

Abstract: This project aims to investigate the role of number and gender features in nominal expressions across languages. Number and gender features are important categories of linguistic systems. To this end, we plan to study bare singular and fake mass nouns, nominal expressions in which gender and number interact in intriguing ways. The contribution of these features in bare singular and fake mass nouns is easier to access in comparison to fullfledged nominal expressions as the ball, since there is no overt determiner in the former expressions. We illustrate these categories in turn. Bare singular nouns lack determiners (articles such as a, o, um(a) in Portuguese) and overt number marking. They have received a lot of attention in the literature on Brazilian Portuguese (BP) for several reasons. One of them is that ‘bolsa de couro’ (leather handbag) and ‘mulher’ (woman) qualify as count expressions, since they can potentially refer to individuals, when they are preceded by determiners (the leather handbag, the woman). In this aspect, they contrast with nouns like ‘açúcar’ (sugar) that always refer to a quantity of atoms but not to individuals. In other words, we can never point to some grains of sugar on the floor and say ‘*the sugar is /sugars are on the floor’. Yet, as ‘açúcar’ (sugar), ‘bolsa de couro’ (leather handbag) and ‘mulher’ (woman) can appear without number morphology, as exemplified in (1) and (2), referring to pluralities. In this, they differ from their English, Greek, and German counterparts, which cannot resume such roles.
(1)Bolsa de couro é cara.
Handbag of leather is expensive.
‘Leather handbags are expensive.’
(2)Mulher chora muito.
Woman cry a.lot.
‘Women cry a lot.’
If they are morphologically alike, ‘bolsa de couro’ (leather handbag) and ‘mulher’ (woman) should pattern alike with respect to syntactic tests that reveal their internal structure. However, these two nominal expressions differ in one crucial aspect: bolsa de couro has purely grammatical gender, while mulher has natural gender. While both types of gender 2 specification have reflexes in the syntax across languages (cf. Corbett 1991), natural gender specifies the sex of a referent, while the function of grammatical gender is disputable in some languages (cf. Trudgill 1999). In BP, gender specification distinguishes different types of bare nouns. One difference is the fact that nominal expressions like ‘batata’, when in subject position, cannot be resumed by a pronoun, as in (3) below.  (We illustrate these facts with bare nouns in subject position since the judgments in this case are much more uniform (cf. Duek (2012) and Müller and Oliveira (2004) for some discussion and Cyrinal & Espinal (2015) for an account of bare nouns in object position being resumed by a pronoun).
(3)*Batata doce faz mal. Elas queimam o estômago.
Potato sweet makes bad. They burn the stomach.
‘Sweet potatoes are bad for your healthy. They burn your stomach.’
However, nouns with natural gender can be resumed with a pronoun.
(4) Mulher chora muito. Elas são muito emocionais.
Woman cry a.lot They are very emotional.
‘Women cry a lot. They are very emotional.’
Also, as noted in Duek (2012), natural gendered bare nouns always agree with their predicates, as shown in (5), contrasting with grammatically gendered bare nouns, as in (6).
(5) Professora é vaidosa/*vaidoso.
Teacher.FEM is vain.FEM/*vain.MASC
(6) Maçã é gostoso. /*gostosa.
Apple.FEM is tasty.MASC/*tasty.FEM
We now turn to the second type of nominal expression to be investigated. Fake mass nouns exhibit interesting properties as they behave similarly to mass nouns (nouns like sugar) with respect to some tests but as count nouns with respect to others. For instance, in English, fake mass nouns do not occur with count determiners (*these furnitures), but they license distributive predicates (The furniture in that night club is round), see Alexiadou (to appear/2016) for additional examples and discussion. As the word furnit-ure itself indicates, fake mass nouns are formed with deverbal nominal morphology in English. Yet, in unrelated languages, like Italian and Hebrew, gender affixes are used to form fake mass nouns. Doron & Müller (2013) show that the derivation of fake mass nouns on the basis of feminine gender is productive in Hebrew:
(7) basic noun ale leaf-masc plural al-im leaves fake mass noun alv-a foliage-FEM
Understanding thus how number and gender interact will contribute to our better understanding of nominal classification across languages.


(7/2016) The Quiet Power of City Streets
Marginalization, Everyday Practices and Urban Change in Sao Paulo and Berlin

HU PI: Talja Blokland (Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences)
USP PI: Marta Teresa da Silva Arretche (Professor, Department of Political Science)

Abstract: The central first aim of this project is to bring together existing knowledge on Sao Paulo and Berlin on the ways in which ordinary residents who are living under conditions of marginalization make their livelihoods in the city, to what extent they challenge existing dominant practices and norms in doing so and how this quietly advancing in their lives affects the city and induces unplanned, uncoordinated social change that has, we argue, generally be overlooked due to shortcomings of existing conceptual approaches. This first aim will result in the production of a special issue for the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, one of the leading international urban studies journals. The second aim is to produce a research proposal for FAPESP/DFG that will further empirically develop a number of case studies in both cities, linking these to the distinct welfare state regimes in both cities. The goal is to extend empirical work and apply principles of comparative urbanism, producing various monographs and an edited collection. As an additional aim, this proposal seeks to strengthen and expand the connections between the Center of Metropolitan Studies at USP and the Georg Simmel Center at HU Berlin, with the intention to come to long‐term joined research projects, teaching  collaborations and joint PhDs. The background or this project is that urban change has often been studied from above, as when state interventions and capitalist investment choices affect cities. We theorize that the practices of livelihoods can be seen as struggles and gains that draw on spatial imaginaries of the city (what is possible, desirable, expectable? what deals can be made, with whom and where?) and can be categorized as struggles over public space, of creating sanctuaries or ways of being outside the normative eye of the state institutions, and of developing ways of being directly in line with the normative frame of state institutions. Empirically the project will include five preliminary case studies in each city which will be discussed comparatively. We draw on contributions of advanced Master and PhD students, hence including young scholars in the core of the project. The organization of the project consist of three workshops, two in Sao Paulo and one in Berlin, including also public lectures to enhance the visibility of the project and open up the project to the broader public in academia and beyond. The first workshop serves as an orientation for the empirical work and as a meeting to elaborate the conceptual framework. In the second workshop, concrete empirical findings will be presented and discussed and agreement will be reached on the focus of collaborative articles that we will write. We also develop the framework of the research proposal at this workshop. Two external specialists, Prof dr Hentschel, Hamburg University, and Prof Simone, University of Göttingen, will be invited as discussants of the research ideas. A subgroup of four scholars will then use Skype and internet communication to extend this in a full proposal. In the third workshop, a public event in the form of a panel discussion will bring our findings to the public and the meeting will serve to discuss and revise drafts of the papers and finalize the research proposal for FAPESP / DFG.