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Research at the Institute for Latin American Studies

Interconnections, asymmetries, im/mobilities

Within the framework of the research profile of the Institute for Latin American Studies "Latin America: Interdependencies, Asymmetries, Im/Mobilities", the prerequisites, conditions and characteristics of the Latin American present, including its historical constitution, are researched. Transregional and intersectional perspectives are at the centre of the analysis, whereby continuities and transformations in Latin America are always examined in the context of their internal and global interconnections as well as interdependent asymmetries. The focus on im/mobilities functions as an interface between cultural and social science approaches and places the accent on dynamics of bordering and dissolving boundaries in relation to social and spatial mobilities, ideas of the future, the environment, national cultures, economies, politics and gender relations, etc. The focus of the project is on the intersection of cultural studies and social sciences.

In order to implement its research profile, the Institute for Latin American Studies draws on the following mutually complementary research strategies:

  • Area Studies: Bringing together regional and disciplinary perspectives
  • Interdisciplinarity: cooperation across disciplines
  • Transregionality: Consideration of global interdependencies
  • Intersectionality: Consideration of interdependent inequalities in relation to gender, social origin, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, etc.
  • Positionality: reflection on one's own role in asymmetrical knowledge structures
  • Inter/transnationality: Close horizontal cooperation with academics, especially from Latin America.
  • Outreach: cooperation between scientific and non-scientific knowledge producers

These research strategies make an innovative contribution to overcoming the fragmentation of disciplinary research and area studies. At the same time, they promote the development of interdisciplinary research as well as transregional and intersectional research perspectives on intertwined asymmetrical developments and on social im/mobilities.

Fields of research

The research profile and research strategies are currently being implemented in the following research fields - either in interdisciplinary international collaborative projects or in more discipline-oriented individual projects:

  • Temporalities and Futures
  • Inequalities and difference
  • Im/mobilties and migration processes
  • Global asymmetries and South-South interdependencies
  • Sustainability and volatility
  • Relationship between humans, nature and technology
  • Power and gender relations
  • State, political cultures, processes of violence
  • Memory and archival research in the digital humanities
  • Cultural representations and performative practices
  • Materialities and medialities of the arts
  • Interpersonal coexistence and interactions with non-humans
  • Food asymmetries, food justice, biodiversity
  • Knowledge, power, digitalisation

Current Projects

Temporalities of Future

The International Research Training Group (IRTG) ‘Temporalities of Future’, aims to offer a new perspective on the study of temporalities of the future in the social and cultural sciences. In close collaboration with colleagues from different disciplines, we seek to contribute to the growing field of research on temporalities of the future by realigning investigations towards a better understanding of global entanglements and the meaning of cultural heterogeneity, with Latin America serving as the primary example of both aspects.

Mecila - Maria Sibylla Merian Centre Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America

The Maria Sibylla Merian Centre Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America (Mecila) is one of five international research colleges in the humanities and social sciences funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in cooperation with local institutions and funding agencies. Mecila's research focuses on past and present forms of social, political and cultural coexistence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Conviviality serves as a central analytical concept for examining different forms of coexistence in specific contexts that are characterised by both diversity and inequality.

Mediating History through Entertainment Media in Latin America. Laboratory for Memory Research and Digital Methods

As part of the programme to promote regional studies of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project "Mediating History through Entertainment Media in Latin America. Laboratory for Memory Research and Digital Methods - GUMELAB" headed by Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke and Dr. Mónika Contreras Saiz was approved. The research project examines the construction, mediation and trans-/national reception of Latin American history and memory through telenovelas and series, as well as their effects on the political attitudes and historical consciousness of viewers.

trAndeS "Trans-Andean Network of Sustainability"

trAndeS seeks to create and disseminate scientific knowledge that can contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) throughout the Andean region.

Immigration Enforcement across the World: Drivers and Consequences of Cross-Country Variation in Deportation Risks

The goal of this research is to assemble the first country-by-country data base on deportations from administrative sources in host countries in order to unpack aggregate patterns and mechanisms related to the political economy of deportation regimes in host countries as well as their consequences in migrants’ countries of origin. Regarding the political economy of deportation regimes in host countries, this research asks about determinants of selection into deportations, as well as changing dynamics over time. In migrants’ countries of origin, it studies effects of the inflow of deportees on selection patterns as reflected in the sociodemographic profile and skills of returnees as well as its external effects on social and political conflict.

Self-testimonies of Jews after their return from Latin America to Berlin (1945/49-1970)

From 1933 until the end of World War II, Latin America was an important destination for refugees from National Socialism. After 1945, many tried to return to Germany despite their experiences of persecution in order to reclaim the property that had been stolen from them and to be compensated for the injustice done to them and their families. The project funded by the Einstein Foundation Berlin examines the fates of these people on the basis of the files of the Compensation Authority and the Reparations Office of the State of Berlin. The sources available there bear witness to the exile experiences, the family situation and networks as well as the continuities of anti-Semitism and the problems of return migration and compensation in post-war Berlin.

ForMOVe - Forced Migration and Organized Violence: A Comparative Study in Europe and the Americas

Forced Migration and Organized Violence (ForMOVe) is a joint research project between the Faculty of Social Science at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Institute for Latin American Studies. The DFG funded project will compare and contrast forms of forced migration in its interrelation with organized violence. The project follows a transnational focus and comparison between the two transit countries Turkey and Mexico, respectively the two regions of Europe and the Americas.

Shared Soundscapes

This collaborative research project explores the shared soundscapes that emerge when actors such as the Peruvian state, archives, anthropologists and local communities negotiate music and dance traditions in the context of cultural heritage or identity politics. The interest of the communities of the North Coast and the Central Rainforest in activating their cultural heritage, which is stored in state archives and private archives, is the focus of the cultural and social anthropological research project headed by Prof. Dr. Ingrid Kummels, Freie Universität Berlin.
Ingrid Kummels, Freie Universität Berlin, and Prof. Dr. Gisela Cánepa, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, which is funded by the DFG.


Success in land- and biodiversity management in one region can hardly be transferred to another region without specifically tailored adaptations. Our interdisciplinary German-Brazilian-Peruvian-Bolivian research-consortium aims at jointly develop such specifically tailored solutions for the MAP-region (triple frontier Brazil/Acre-Peru/Madre de Dios-Bolivia/Pando).

The Global Change of the Category 'Forced Labour'

The research project examines the continuities and ruptures in the interpretation of forced labour in the ILO, namely on the one hand as a colonial phenomenon in the imperial context of the interwar period, and on the other hand in the current structural context of global social inequality.

Research Centre Brazil

To strengthen and institutionalise the long-standing Brazil research, the LAI founded the interdisciplinary Brazil Research Centre in 2010. The centre focuses on projects and research activities with a cultural and social science orientation whose common perspective is "Brazil in the world context".

Narrating Violence: Artistic Practices and Research from Latin America and Beyond

How to explore and narrate extreme violence without succumbing to and contributing to paralysis? What artistic, aesthetic and research strategies have artists from Latin America and other postcolonial settings developed to make the invisible visible and the unheard audible? What kinds of (counter)knowledge are generated in these processes? Researchers from the LAI, together with researchers and artists from elsewhere, discussed these and other questions in a workshop-laboratory co-funded by the Institute for Latin American Studies and the Margherita-von-Brentano-Zentrum für Geschlechterforschung.