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Research Projects & Networks

This joint research project, led by Prof. Dr. Markus-Michael Müller (Roskilde University) and Prof. Dr. Markus Hochmüller (Freie Universität Berlin/University of Oxford), offers the first systematic analysis of the practical and normative consequences of South-South security cooperation in Latin America. It examines the transfer of security policy knowledge by Latin America's most important security-exporting country, Colombia. By focusing on the role of local actors in two recipient countries, the project assesses the effectiveness, empirical legitimacy and local impact of these new forms of South-South cooperation (SSC) in Latin American security governance. Given the violent nature of democratic orders in the region, the project examines the consequences of security-oriented SSC for the rule of law and the democratic quality of security provision in the recipient countries. Based on field research (interviews and participant observation) and analysis of key security documents, the project examines how Colombian police and military training as a horizontal mode of cooperation changes doctrinal and operational features of security governance in recipient countries, as well as how local security actors translate, appropriate, modify or contest Colombian expertise and what normative implications this has.

Project Website

The International Latin American Graduate Network (ILAGN) is an initiative led by students in the humanities and social sciences at the University of Oxford and Freie Universität Berlin. The aim of the network is to create a community of like-minded PhD students and postgraduates to organise academic events, share research results and exchange ideas beyond their home institutions.

The network has so far organised two conferences for postgraduate and doctoral students in Latin American Studies. The first Oxford Berlin Latin American Graduate Conference was held at the LAC in Oxford on 30-31 May 2020. A second conference was held at the Latin American Institute in Berlin on 26-27 June 2023. During the two conferences, all participants were able to present their Master's and PhD projects from different disciplines, engaging intensively with the group's research projects, receiving valuable feedback and further strengthening the links between the two institutions.

The project "Justice, Peace, and Politics in the Creation of a Lasting Peace in Colombia's Marginalised Regions" examines Colombia's transformation in the course of the peace process with the FARC and focuses in particular on the impact of the transitional justice process on (violent and political) actors in Colombia. This project is carried out jointly with the LAC's CONPEACE research network and is supported by a seed grant from the Oxford Berlin Research Partnership (Ox-Ber). The aim of the project is to understand the security challenges of the transition from war to peace in Colombia.

With this in mind, this project examines the changes in the security landscape that accompany the transition from war to peace. In particular, it examines:

1. How the restructuring - rather than disappearance - of violent non-state groups that takes place during such transitions affects issues related to security, order and (non-state) governance.

2. the implications for ethics and norms in contexts where the line between armed conflict and organised crime is increasingly blurred;

3. how historical turning points such as the end of the armed conflict between Colombia and the FARC are relevant to and influenced by broader geopolitical changes and the evolving security landscape in the world.

Drawing on a wide range of perspectives, including marginalised communities, indigenous, Afro-Colombian and other civil society actors, guerrillas, former combatants, displaced persons, military and police officials, government officials and NGOs, and UN staff, the project explores how the Colombian security architecture needs to adapt to these changes in order to promote security in Colombia and internationally.

Project Website

Against the backdrop of a security situation perceived as an extraordinary threat to national stability, governments across Latin America have strengthened armed forces on a scale not seen since the end of the Cold War. The project "The Comeback of the Latin American Armed Forces: Continuities, Changes, and Challenges to Democratic Security Governance" examined this comeback of the Latin American military. It was the first project to examine the challenges that this (re)militarisation poses to public security and democratic governance in the region from an interdisciplinary and historically informed comparative perspective.

The project assessed the historical dimension of militarised public security in Latin America and examined the current role of the military in the fight against crime and violence. To analyse the related challenges to democratic governance, the project brought together scholars from the fields of political science, history and Latin American studies. The project focused on empirical case studies ranging from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia to Mexico and the "Triángulo Norte" in Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). With the support of the OX-BER Research Partnership Seed Grant, the project team worked with a wide range of experts in the field of civil-military relations and security policy to develop a joint research programme. It aimed to develop a database on military interventions and a comprehensive research proposal to strengthen cooperation between the research communities in Berlin and Germany.The aim of the project was to assess the specific constellations of civil-military relations as well as the regional patterns from a diachronic and synchronic comparative perspective. To achieve this, four main questions were addressed:

1. why do Latin American citizens trust the armed forces, and what do they expect from the military?

2. why and under what conditions do civilian policymakers rely on the military to fight violence and crime?

3) What are the consequences of the (re)militarisation of internal security for democratic governance, the rule of law, public security and human rights in Latin America?

4. how does this "comeback" of the military in the region affect the democratisation process in the region?

The project ran from November 2019 to December 2020 and was conducted by Prof. Dr Marianne Braig, Dr Carlos A. Pérez Ricart and Dr Markus Hochmüller and funded by a seed grant from the OX/BER Research Partnership.

The OX/BER Centre for Advanced Studies group "Transitions and Social Cohesion in Context of Multiple Crises" consists of Dr. Annette Idler, Prof. Dr. Markus Hochmüller, Prof. Dr. Sérgio Costa and Dr. Jan Boesten and investigates social cohesion in the ever-changing contexts of multiple crises around the world, with a particular focus on the Latin American region and its borderlands.

The researchers examine social cohesion in the context of multiple crises (political crises, emergencies in border areas and the Covid 19 pandemic) in Colombia and South American border areas. Among other things, they ask how institutional transformations are influenced by other parallel processes and crises and what impact these have on the social cohesion of communities in border areas. The interdisciplinary project works at the intersection between sociology and peace and conflict research.

The project will conduct surveys in Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, focusing primarily on understanding migration in contexts influenced by factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, refugee crises and drug cartels. This research should thus enable generalisable conclusions to be drawn about the global context of other refugee crises in border areas such as Afghanistan and Myanmar.

The project is funded by the OX/BER Research Partnership.