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Research Questions

Zinacatán, Chiapas, México

Zinacatán, Chiapas, México
Image Credit: © José Francisco Hernández Reyes

Throughout Latin America, drug trafficking, the renewed wide-scale exploitation and marketing of natural resources, the lack of economic opportunities, dramatic climate change and associated natural disasters are threatening the survival of whole communities. Citizens’ hopes and fears about the future strongly influence political and socioeconomic decision-making, cultural production and everyday practices, which shapes social coexistence in general. Mass migration and social strife are symptoms of the continent’s diverse crises and problems. Its social, economic and political instability has deep historical roots, which is further reflected in the structure of social and ethnic inequalities and in arduous processes of decolonization. While the threats posed to contemporary Latin American societies make it especially urgent to advance visions of the future, hegemonic Western ideas and concepts of development are inadequate to the challenges of conflicting concepts and ideas of the future in an era of globalisation.

Our main research question:

How do the aspirations and anticipations of diverse actors shape and construct the temporalities of future in Latin America?

In line with this overarching inquiry, we also address several sub-problems:

How have aspirational and anticipative practices shaped social life in Latin American history and how do they do so in the present?

How do people interpret, shape and influence approaching uncertainties, unpredictable events and inscrutable processes?

How do people act, in turn, when the future seems entirely certain (surrender, wait or fight)?

Who were and are the protagonists defining the future? What are their projections into the future?

How do underlying processes influence aspirations and anticipations of the future?

How do different concepts of time interact or conflict in the ethnically heterogeneous societies of Latin America?

What is the influence of global entanglements on temporalities of the future?

Consejo Nacional de Ciencia e Technologia
Banner Dahlem Research School