Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Work with French researchers on interdisciplinary AHRC projects

Apply for funding for collaborative research projects with French researchers.

You must be:

  • a UK resident
  • based at a UK institution eligible to receive funding from UKRI.

Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes:

  • the environmental arts and humanities
  • controversial and contested pasts and heritages
  • futures and futurology.

Your project’s full economic cost can be up to £125,000. AHRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Laboratoire d’Excellence: Pasts in the Present (LABEX PasP Cluster of excellence) will provide up to €60,000 for French costs.

Projects must start on 1 February 2022. They must last between 18 and 30 months.

Who can apply

UK applicants

Standard eligibility criteria (please see section two of AHRC’s research funding guide) will apply to this opportunity for UK investigators and research organisations. This means that the UK principal investigator must be both:

  • resident in the UK
  • based at a UK institution eligible to receive funding from UKRI.

Full details of all project partner organisations should be included in the application and be accompanied by a project partner letter of support. Potential project partners include but are not limited to:

  • cultural institutions
  • libraries and archives
  • environmental organisations
  • the creative industries
  • community organisations
  • policy makers.

Guidance on what needs to be included in a project partner letter of support is provided on page 71 of the AHRC research funding guide.

International co-investigators outside of France and the UK may be included and costed within the UK and AHRC proposal in line with AHRC’s international co-investigator policy, where it can be demonstrated (in the case for support) that they will add value to the UK-France collaboration.

Please refer to the AHRC research funding guide for further information on AHRC’s international co-investigator policy and which costs are eligible within a UK budget. However, please note that it is not expected that costs of researchers in France will be costed as international co-investigators in the UK AHRC proposal or that costs of UK researchers will be included in the French Labex proposal.

French applicants

At least one member of the project team (principal investigator, co-investigator) must be part of the Labex cluster of excellence Pasts in the Present (hereinafter Labex PasP) based at the following institutions:

  • Paris Nanterre University
  • Paris 8 University
  • Archives nationales (National Archives of France)
  • Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France)
  • Musée d’Archéologie nationale (National Museum of Archaeology)
  • Institut national de l’audiovisuel (National Audiovisual Institute)
  • Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac (Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac Museum).

The project leaders in France must be permanent or statutory staff. Research teams in France are encouraged where possible to ensure their research leads have appropriate training, such as:

  • training for Masters or PhD students
  • extracurricular training (summer schools, school workshop, and so on)
  • lifelong learning.

A comprehensive list of all potential Labex PasP applicants and collaborators, as well as Labex funding policies, can be found on the Labex PasP website.

A JISCmail list has been set up to facilitate connections between UK and Labex PasP researchers interested in applying for this opportunity.

Sign up for the AHRC-LABEX2021 JISCmail list.

What we're looking for

This is an opportunity to engage in collaborative transnational and transcultural research across one or more of the subthemes:

  • landscapes and environment
  • contested pasts
  • futures.

Projects may be focused at a variety of scales (or be multi-scalar), and in a wide range of geo-cultural contexts globally. Applications involving wider international collaborations beyond the UK and France are welcomed.

Projects can focus on or across any temporal periods or time horizons, past, present or future, including non-linear perspectives. Applications for projects incorporating digital technologies, practice-based methodologies, solution-focused approaches or a combination of any of these three will be welcomed.

Research themes to be addressed

1. The environmental arts and humanities: landscapes, memory, heritages, and experiences

This subtheme encourages researchers to examine the relationships between:

  • environmental change
  • landscapes
  • memory
  • heritage
  • experiences.

You don’t have to include all of these elements.

Examples of the types of issues that might be encompassed within this theme are:

  • how do landscapes (at different scales, including naturescapes, cityscapes, seascapes and so on) and environments interact with places, territories and cultures through time? How are they associated with memories?
  • how do diverse communities live with and adapt to changing landscapes, dynamic environments and shifting cultural values over time?
  • what novel perspectives and methodologies can arise from ‘more than human’ and multispecies epistemologies in relation to naturescapes or cityscapes and the environment?
  • how do experiences allow for novel engagement with the environment and the climate crisis?
  • what roles do different forms of tangible and intangible heritage, or technologies of memory, play as vectors of environmental information, experiences, or memory?
  • how can we learn from and develop holistic landscape approaches that understand cultural heritage assets as part of continually changing ecological and geophysical systems, as well as the emotional or affective dimension of landscapes and environments?
  • what roles do collective and individual memory play in shaping how citizens engage with the management of landscapes and environments (particularly with consideration of interdisciplinary notions of place-making, territorial approaches, mobilities and boundaries)?
  • what roles can cultural heritage institutions play in facilitating interchange and learning between cultural and environmental or natural heritage policies, practices and approaches. For example in areas such as conservation, adaptive management, active curation and stewardship?
  • multi-sensory, untraceable (or less traceable) and invisible or hidden environmental memories and heritages
  • interconnections with other themes around future environments and contested histories, spaces and places.

2. Controversial and contested pasts and heritages

This subtheme asks researchers to examine controversial and contested pasts, including in:

  • public spaces
  • galleries
  • libraries
  • archives
  • museums
  • intangible or digital heritages.

Examples of the types of issues that might be encompassed within this theme are:

  • how can arts and humanities research addressing controversial and contested pasts contribute to decision-making and professional practice that results in more inclusive civic dialogues?
  • how can we successfully reinterpret collections, objects and spaces? How can institutions measure the success of reinterpretation?
  • how can histories of counter-memorialisation, vernacular memorialisation, guerrilla memorisation, and intangible memorialisation, help us to contextualise our understanding of tangible heritage or heritages?
  • how do we acknowledge institutions’ pasts and how that may have conditioned who they are and how they are perceived today? How do public institutions rebuild trust in their communities?
  • how did objects and artefacts come to be acquired and what does their provenance mean for their custodianship today? What stories do these collections tell? Whose voices are heard? Whose voices remain silenced or marginalised?
  • what are the challenges of preserving our material inheritance when that inheritance does not represent an increasingly diverse society? To what extent should the urban landscape belong to the sensibilities of the present? What constitutes inclusive memorialisation?
  • how have public or historical narratives of colonial culture, legacy and heritage changed in recent years? Which elements of these narratives, if any, have remained unchanged?  What are the future discourses of colonial pasts? How do we ensure that these discourses confront the intangible legacies of colonial pasts which shaped more visible, physical legacies, such as collections, statues, and the built environment?
  • what does it mean to take responsibility for the past? Can the past furnish us with moral obligations?
  • what is the role of the digital humanities and digital restitution processes in controversial pasts?

3. Futures

This subtheme encourages researchers to explore how the future is anticipated in the present, as well as how futures were anticipated in the past, from the perspective of the individual experience, right through to global discourses. Projects may wish to develop novel tools and methodologies for ‘thinking with’ futures.

Examples of the types of issues that might be encompassed within this theme are:

  • what is the role of the arts and humanities in shaping, enriching, and critiquing speculative discourses about the future?
  • how might unexamined assumptions about the past and present shape ideas of the future, and hold us back from imagining futures which are radically different?
  • how can we reshape views of current and past lived experience in order to expand our understanding of what is possible tomorrow?
  • what novel tools and methodologies might be developed for thinking with or about futures?
  • what is hindering the unfolding of future or futures?
  • how do knowledge cultures of time impact on the present and the future or futures?
  • what are the implications of whose future visions are represented? What inclusive practices and methodologies would enable these barriers to be transcended?
  • whose future visions are represented in discourses, and how might barriers to more inclusive futures be transcended? How can we democratise the future(s)?
  • how can futures be communicated effectively?
  • how can speculative fiction shape scientific and social approaches to contemporary challenges?
  • how do objects, ‘hyperobjects’ (Timothy Morton), and ‘unthinkable objects’ (Amitav Ghosh) defy traditional ways of thinking and provide us with new perspectives on the future(s)? Can the gap between immensely complex objects, and ‘unthinkable objects’ such as climate change, the Anthropocene, and the planet we live on, and the ways we continuously encounter each of them in a limited capacity be bridged more effectively?
  • what can be discovered by thinking ‘with’ unthinkable objects? How do encounters with the unthinkable occur? How can we structure thoughts around the unthinkable to improve our collective understanding of them?
  • what is the role of the performing arts in thinking about unthinkable objects? How can art and performance allow us to engage with the unthinkable?
  • how do memories of current and past events (for example, pandemics) shape how future disruptive change is anticipated and speculated about?
  • researchers might also engage with subtheme by exploring new modes of writing and narrative tools, or by considering the potential of speculative fiction to divert thinking from traditional models
  • interconnections with other themes, for example, future environments, future legacies and heritages of controversial and contested histories, and future memories of the present and past.

Cross-cutting considerations

In addition to the three themes outlined above, applications should also consider the following three cross-cutting issues. It is recognised that the ways they will affect proposals, and incorporated into projects, will vary.

1. Plural voices, inclusive engagement and civic dialogue

For example:

  • uncovering hidden, marginalised or under-researched histories and heritage assets
  • inclusive engagement with diverse cultures and perspectives, including inclusive participatory methods with diverse communities, equitably partnership working across organisational and national boundaries
  • incorporating ‘more than human’ or non-human perspectives
  • creating inclusive and accessible ‘spaces’ in which plural voices are heard and civic dialogue can take place across cultures, beliefs and knowledges to explore different experiences, perspectives or future visions
  • exploring ways to address imbalances and inequalities in power, or historical injustices or both of these.

2. Boundary-crossing collaborations: transnational, cross-cultural, cross-sectoral and across disciplines


  • learning from both commonalities and differences, and from shared and distinct histories, heritages, cultural assets and research traditions across national and cultural borders and boundaries
  • working equitably with partners both cross-nationally and with non-academic partners
  • connecting across disciplines both within the arts and humanities, and where appropriate beyond, for example:
    • environmental sciences
    • natural sciences
    • physical sciences
    • technology
    • medicine
    • engineering.

3. Research and technological innovation, technologies of memory, digital humanities, creative approaches

For example:

  • recognising the research opportunities arising from new digital technologies, artificial intelligence, sensors and data analysis, such as uncovering hidden histories, opening up new dialogues or creating new experiences, to connect and link collections and cultural assets across boundaries
  • exploring how to overcome the limitations of new technologies and approaches including. For example, the potential transitory nature of some technologies of memory, data-based approaches which may rely on incomplete or selective historical data and collections which underrepresent the historical experiences and voices of some groups, or the potential to create new routes to exploit or exclude disadvantaged groups
  • methodological innovation, such as using creative approaches to imagine futures, uncovering hidden histories, or engaging diverse communities.

UK-France collaborations

Projects should be jointly led and delivered by the UK and LABEX PasP cluster teams, working with other partners as appropriate. An integrated programme of research should be outlined in a single, jointly-agreed case for support, which should be submitted in parallel to both the AHRC and LABEX PasP. The elements of the joint project to be delivered by the teams led by the UK and French investigators should be costed separately, and will be funded through separate awards from the UK and LABEX PasP.

Each proposal must identify:

  • one principal investigator from France
  • one principal Investigator from the UK.

The principal investigator from France must meet the eligibility requirements for the LABEX PasP programme, and the UK principal investigator must meet the AHRC’s eligibility requirements.

In addition, each application should nominate one of the two principal investigators as an overall project coordinator to take a lead in ensuring the integration of UK and French elements of the proposed research. For the purposes of completing the Je-S form the UK lead investigator must be entered as principal investigator on the form but in all other respects the French and UK lead investigators will be considered as joint co-principal investigators.

The majority of the UK component (at least 50%) must fall within the AHRC remit. The French component must fall within the scope of the LABEX PasP. Supplementary research contributions from other academic disciplines and research fields may be included in addition where they would add value to the research.

UK applicants can request up to £125,000 (full economic cost) from AHRC, to be paid at 80%, for the UK-led component of joint projects. French applicants can request up to €60,000 from LABEX PasP, to be paid at 100%, for the French-led component of joint projects.

UK-applicants are reminded that consultancy fees may be included under the heading of ‘other directly incurred costs’. Applicants must demonstrate clear value for money and justification for these in the case for support.

Research projects are encouraged to involve non-academic partners, including, but not limited to:

  • cultural institutions
  • libraries and archives
  • environmental organisations
  • the creative industries
  • community organisations
  • policy makers
  • artists not affiliated with a research organisation.

LABEX PasP encourages French research teams to ensure their research leads to appropriate training, such as:

  • training for Masters or PhD students
  • extracurricular training (summer schools, school workshop, and so on)
  • lifelong learning.

Please note that for the UK component of projects, funding for post-graduate training or PhD studentships are not an eligible cost.

Projects are expected to start on 1 February, 2022 and last between 18 to 30 months. Projects must end by 31 December, 2024.

How to apply

Parallel submission of a joint UK-France proposal, with the same jointly agreed case for support, is required to both LABEX PasP (by French team) and to AHRC by the UK principal investigator’s research organisation.

The principal investigator in the UK will be responsible for submitting a joint UK-France proposal, written in English, through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

To be able to do this your host organisation must be registered for Je-S, and you must hold a Je-S account. If you are unsure about this, you should contact your research organisation’s research office for further guidance.

Applications should be submitted through the Je-S system by 5 October 2021 16:00, and will need to go through the appropriate institution submission process prior to this.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

To prepare a proposal form in Je-S, log in to your account and choose ‘documents’ from the menu, then select:

  • ‘new document’
  • council: AHRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: development grants
  • call/type/mode: AHRC LABEX 5 October 2021
  • ‘create document’.

Je-S will then create a proposal form, displaying the relevant section headings. Using the blue question marks and the ‘help’ link at the top of each section will provide guidance relevant to that section of the form.

The Je-S submission portal allows for only one principal investigator to be included in a proposal. For this AHRC-Labex opportunity, there is to be one principal investigator from the UK and one from France. On the Je-S form the principal investigator is therefore the UK principal investigator and the French principal investigator needs to be recorded as a co-investigator. Such terminology must be considered as a built-in system feature, and does not challenge the equal status and co-leadership of the UK and French principal investigators.

All investigators named on the Je-S application form, including the French primary investigator, must have a Je-S account. Where this doesn’t already exist, it can be easily set up, but please note that it can take a number of days so it is strongly recommended that the process be started well before the application deadline.

Je-S accounts can be created on the Je-S website. During account set up an account type of ‘an applicant on a standard/outline proposal’ must be selected.

If you require assistance with the process please contact the Je-S helpdesk at or +44 (0)1793 44 4164.

Proposals will need to show 100% of the full economic cost of the proposed UK elements of the research, with AHRC covering 80% of these. The costs of the French component will be submitted as an additional attachment. LABEX PasP will cover 100% of the French component.

International co-investigators (not including French principal investigators or French co-investigators)

For opportunities launched after 1 July 2021 UKRI are changing how international costs should be included in applications.

To enable UKRI to meet reporting requirements, all overseas costs incurred by non-UK organisations, must be entered into the ‘other directly incurred costs’ using the following format.

In the description box you should enter ‘organisation, country, cost category, cost description’.

The cost categories for this are:

  • staff
  • other directly incurred costs
  • indirect costs
  • travel and subsistence
  • equipment.

For example:

  • ‘University of Nairobi; Kenya; Staff; 1 x PDRA’
  • ‘University of Nairobi; Kenya; Travel and Subsistence; 4 x flights’
  • ‘University of Nairobi; Kenya; Other Directly Incurred Costs; 5 x Workshops including catering and accommodation’
  • ‘University of Nairobi; Equipment; Name of equipment’.

All costs incurred by the international co-investigator, including salary costs will need to be listed as ‘exceptions’ under the ‘other directly incurred costs’ heading and entered using the naming format detailed above. For example, ‘University of Nairobi; Kenya; staff; 1 x international co-investigator’.


As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents outlined below must be submitted, unless it is indicated they are optional. General guidance on attachments is provided in AHRC’s research funding guide. Any guidance specific to this opportunity is provided below and takes precedence.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

Case for support

Maximum seven pages. Eligible applications will contain the information below. Use the following section headings for the narrative:

  • research questions or problems
  • which opportunity-specific areas this project addresses
  • how this project addresses the three cross-cutting considerations
  • research context
  • research methods
  • project management and integration of UK and French components
  • outputs, dissemination and impact.

Justification of resources

Maximum two pages.


A CV (maximum two pages) must be provided for every named researcher on the project.

Publications list

Summary lists of publications and research outputs should be attached as separate documents for each principal investigator and any co-investigators or named postdoctoral researchers.

These should cover major publications and outputs in the last five years and should be no more than one side of A4 paper. Brief articles, conference papers, and so on need not be included. You should asterisk those of particular relevance to your current research proposal.

A provisional budget for the French component of the project.

The template budget provided in ‘additional information’ for this opportunity should be used.

Project partners’ letters of support

Each project partner included in the Je-S form must provide a ‘project partner letter of support’, of no more than two sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper, or by email in exceptional circumstances. The letter must therefore be dated within three months before submission of the proposal.

Data management plan

All projects with a digital aspect to their project must include a data management plan in their application. The digital aspect of the project, from the data management plan to the specific intended digital developments must be presented in detail. The resources and tools developed will systematically be placed in a data repository in keeping with FAIR principles and obligations regarding open access. In order to do this, LABEX PasP may rely on services and tools established by TGIR Huma-Num (Very Big Infrastructure HumaNum).


Optional one-page attachment.

International co-investigator head of department statements (not including French principal investigators)

If your proposal includes an international co-investigator, their institution must submit a head of department statement (please note this is not required for the Labex principal investigator.) The statement (maximum two sides of A4) should be signed, dated and on headed paper.

This statement must include the following information:

  • what the international co-investigator is bringing to the project and why they are best placed to conduct the research
  • how they will deliver the project’s objectives
  • how their institution will support them during the lifetime of the project
  • assurances that their contract will be in place for the duration of the project.

The letter should be dated and should be written when the proposal is being prepared. The letter should be targeted specifically to this project.

Additional requirement

A copy of the proposal and all other attachments submitted to the AHRC via Je-S must be submitted to LABEX PasP via secure email by 8 October 2021, 12:00 CET to Please allow sufficient time to complete this.

Please note that exactly the same information must be submitted to both the AHRC and LABEX PasP. No additional information submitted to LABEX PasP will be included in the assessment process.

How we will assess your application

The panel meeting will be held in November 2021.

Applications will be assessed directly at the panel meeting. There will be no separate peer-review or principal investigator response stage for applications for this opportunity.

The panel composition will comprise of 50% of members nominated by the AHRC and 50% nominated by Labex PasP, and a mutually agreed chair. Panelists may include members from partner organisations, including the heritage sector, as well as academic researchers.

Conflicts of interests will be managed by removing panel members from the discussion of any proposal with which they have a conflict of interests (for example, applications involving their research organisation).

The assessment panel will agree a grade for each application and a ranked prioritised list of applications for funding. Final funding decisions will be taken by AHRC and Labex PasP. Whilst funders will normally follow the ranked prioritised list in making decisions, AHRC and Labex may take strategic considerations, such as the spread of proposals across themes, into account in making final decisions amongst proposals given the same high overall quality grading by the panel.

The panel will be asked to be consider the following criteria when making recommendations to the AHRC and Labex PasP for funding:

  • research quality, originality, and innovation
  • effectiveness of proposed project management, including:
    • appropriate support for research career development
    • equality, diversity and inclusion
    • equitable and ethical research practices
    • value for money
  • fit to opportunity and potential innovative contribution to the themes and areas outlined in the opportunity
  • integration of UK and French components, and added value from cross-national research collaboration between the UK and France.

It is expected that five to seven awards will be made under this funding opportunity, with the aim of having a balanced portfolio of awards across the thematic areas, subject to proposals meeting the criteria and quality standards detailed above.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.



+44 (0)1793 444164

Ask a question about this opportunity


Please use ‘Labex opportunity’ in the subject line.

Connect with UK and Labex PasP researchers interested in applying

A JISCmail list has been set up to facilitate connections between UK and Labex PasP researchers interested in applying for this opportunity.

Sign up for the AHRC-LABEX2021 JISCmail list.

Additional info

Supporting documents

Budget template for the French component (Excel, 20KB)

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 170KB)

About Labex Pasts in the Present

‘Labex Pasts in the Present: history, heritage, memory’ (Les passés dans le présent: histoire, patrimoine, mémoire) is a long-term international collective research programme.

It was initially created in 2012, and then it was extended in 2019 for another five-year period, to run up until 2024.

The Labex consortium brings together:

  • University Paris Nanterre (the coordinating institution)
  • University Paris 8
  • University Paris Lumières
  • University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne,
  • French National Centre for Scientific Research
  • five other major national cultural institutions:
    • National Archives of France
    • National Library of France
    • National Audio-visual Institute
    • National Archaeology Museum
    • Museum Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac.

This is the second joint funding opportunity between AHRC and LABEX PasP since the first in 2015.

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