Sociological studies at the Latin American Institute are framed by two overarching thematic discussions: the questioning of presenting Latin America through modernization theoretical lenses; and understanding the complexities surrounding the social construction of power and difference. With these in mind, research at LAI covers:

Latin America as a participant in global society

  • Circulation of knowledge
  • Gender relations
  • Cultural differences and social inequalities
  • Ecological conflicts

Current Research Projects

The staff of the department of sociology at the Latin American Institute are currently engaged in the following research projects and networks funded by third parties: 

Fair Fuels?“

The project Fair Fuels? addresses the question of whether biofuels can be produced and used in a socio-ecologically compatible manner, and looks at the socio-ecological impacts that derive from their production and promotion at present.

The project team consists of junior scientists and researchers, all of whom are pursuing further academic qualification (doctorate, postdoctorate).The project, initiated and led by the IÖW, is sponsored within the framework of the socio-ecological research programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Project Management Latin American Institute: Kristina Dietz

Social Movements, the Public Sphere, and new Configurations of Law in Latin America

The project explores the relation between social movements, the public sphere and law. It enters a new area of research in so far as the literature still assumes a dualism between “rule” and “unrule” of law. This dualism is based on a reductionist understanding of the state of law, on which the current relationships between social movements and law can't be explained. On the contrary, this project anticipates internal cohesion between law and political public sphere, where social movements function as a catalyst for the introduction of new topics to the public debate. Funding: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES, Brasil) and Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (MINcy, Argentina). Head of project Prof. Dr. Sérgio Costa

Research Network on interdependent Inequalities in Latin America is an interdisciplinary, international, and multi-institutional research network on social inequalities in Latin America supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) in the frame of its funding line on area studies. The Lateinamerika-Institut of the Freie Universität Berlin (LAI, Institute for Latin American Studies of the Free University of Berlin) and the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (IAI, Ibero-American Institute of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin) are in overall charge of the research network. The duration of the project is from December 2009 to November 2013.

The Brazil Research Center

The Brazil Research Center is an interdisciplinary center hosted by the Latin American Institute at the Freie Universität Berlin. The research center focuses on cultural and social science activities are research projects examining Brazil in its global context.

International Graduate Progamme "Between Spaces: Movements, Actors and Representations of Globalisation"

Sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the International Graduate Programme ‘Between Spaces: Movements, Actors and Representations of Globalisation’ opens up new perspectives on globalisation research in the social sciences and humanities. By developing a dialogue between disciplines and diverse scholarly traditions in Germany and Mexico, the research program seeks to contribute to the reorientation of Area Studies as a transnational and interdisciplinary field of study. The primary foci of the Programme are movements between various regions of the world and the new spaces that have arisen over past and present stages of globalisation.

Dissertation Projects

A very important part of the research projects at the department of sociology at the Latin American Institute are its current dissertation projects. Please find a list of these projects here.