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Jun.-Prof. Dr. Renata Motta

Bild Motta

Freie Universität Berlin

ZI Lateinamerika-Institut

Profesora Junior

Soziologie Lateinamerikas

ZI Lateinamerika-Institut der Freien Universität Berlin
Rüdesheimer Str. 54-56
Oficina 228
14197 Berlin
Correo electrónico

Hora de atención

La hora de consulta de la profesora Renata Motta durante el semester de invierno 20/21 tendrá lugar los viernes de 10am - 12pm. Tenga presente que debido al COVID-19, ésta se llevara a cabo via Webex.

Información para el estudiantado

Solicitudes para asesoría de trabajos finales de B.A., M.A., doctorado, y postdoctorado (incluyendo solicitudes para asesorías secundarias), así como peticiones de referencias para becas y otros similares, no pueden se hechas por medio de un correo electrónico.

Trabajos finales

Por favor enviar una sinopsis del proyecto (1-2 páginas), incluyendo sus datos personales, a más tardar una semana previa a la cita.

Peticiones de referencias y recomendaciones

Para obtener una referencia o recomendación, es indispensable haber participado en mínimo uno de los cursos de la profesora Renata Motta. Si este no es el caso, por favor absténgase de enviar solicitudes de referencia o recomendación.

Adicionalmente es necesario enviar la siguiente documentación, mínimo 4 semanas antes de la fecha requerida para la referencia o recomendación:

Transcript of records, CV, referencias y certificados laborales, etc.

Asesoría de Doctorado

A más tardar una semana antes de su cita, debe haber enviado la siguiente documentación:

CV, copia de diploma de graduación, copia de trabajo de grado (M.A /Diplom), sinopsis del proyecto doctoral. 

Renata Motta is Adjunct Professor in Sociology at the Institute for Latin American Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin and Associated Researcher at desiguALdades.net. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the Freie Universität Berlin. Her teaching and research interests include political sociology, political economy, environmental sociology, social inequalities and gender. She has authored articles in these areas for Journal of Agrarian Change, Social Movement Studies, Sociology Compass, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais. Her newest publication is the book "Social Mobilization, Global Capitalism and Struggles over Food: A Comparative Study of Social Movements" (Routledge, 2016).

Wissenschaftlicher Werdegang

  • Since 07/2018: Junior Professor (Assistant Professor) in Sociology, Institute for Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

  • 09/2017-06/201: Temporary Associate Professor in Brazil Studies School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • 2015-2018: Adjunct Professor in Sociology (Postdoc Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin), Institute for Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

  • 2014/15:Research Associate and Lecturer (Pre-Doc Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin), Institute for Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Since 2014: Teaching and Research Assistant in Sociology at Freie Universität Berlin, Institute for Latin American Studies
  • 01/2015: PhD in Sociology from Freie Universität Berlin.
  • 2011 - 2014: Doctoral Scholarship of the BMBF Research Project "International Research Network on Interdependent Inequalities in Latin America - desiguALdades.net". Institute for Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
  • 2008: Master’s Degree (M.A.) in Social Sciences, Universidade de Brasília, Brazil
  • 2007: Specialist in International Health, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
  • 2004: Bachelor in International Relations, Pontifícia Universidad Católica de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil


Editorial and Board Positions

  • Board Member Research Committee 47 International Sociological Association (2014-2018)
  • Board Member ESA Research Network on Risk and Uncertainty (2013-2014)
  • Editor (2012-204) SoRU News. E-newsletter of the ISA/ESA Research Network on Risk and Uncertainty. ISSN 2035-5391 (SoRU News Print) and ISSN 2035-5405 (SoRU News Online)


Research Grants, Scholarships and Awards

  • 2014: Travel Grant by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to participate at XVIII World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan.
  • 2013: Scholarship by BMBF to participate at 3rd Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences.
  • 2012: Scholarship by BMBF 3rd Summer School desiguALdades.net “Asymmetries of Knowledge”, National University of Bogota, Colombia, October/29th to November 3rd.
  • 2012: Dahlem Research School Travel Grant. II ISA Forum, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August.
  • 2012: Dahlem Research School Travel Grant. 3rd International Political Science Association (IPSA)mAnnual Summer School „Concepts and methods in Political Science and Methods”, University of São Paulo, Brazil, January 30-February 10.
  • 2011: Dahlem Research School Travel Grant. 35º Encontro da ANPOCS, Caxambu, Brazil, October.
  • 2011: European Sociological Association Scholarship and Travel Grant. ESA PhD Workshop. "Social Relations in Turbulent Times", University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland, September.
  • 2011: Dahlem Research School Travel Grant. ESA 10th Conference: Social Relations in Turbulent Times, Geneva, Switzerland, September.
  • 2011: Dahlem Research School Travel Grant for a Research stay at ECLAC/UN, Santiago, Chile, March-April.
  • 2010: Travel Grant from Associação Nacional de Pesquisa e Pós-Graduação em Ciências Sociais. 34º Encontro da ANPOCS, Caxambu, Brazil, October.
  • 2010: Jean Monnet Travel Grant for "Workshop for Young Researchers: European Integration   between Trade and Non Trade: Selected Issues", Maastricht University, Holland.
  • 2004: Scholarship from DAAD for Winter Course in the Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg.
  • 2003: Scholarship from Pontifícia Universidade Católica, (Fund for Incentives for Research, FIP) in the project "Decentralization and Defragmentation in the Provision of Public Health: The Experience of the Intermunicipal Health Consortia in Minas Gerais", coord. by Profs. Drs. Carlos Alberto Rocha and Carlos Aurélio Faria, Department of Social Sciences.

Wintersemester 2016/17                          

33231 Seminar Global Sociologies: Decentring Sociological Theory (mit Sergio Costa)

33603 Kolloquium Forschungscolloquium Soziologie Lateinamerikas (mit Sergio Costa)

33813 Seminar Solidarität und Allianzbildung in Gendertheorien und feministischen Bewegungen

Sommersemester 2017

30214 Hauptseminar Machtwechsel und Umverteilungskonflikte in Brasilien (mit Sergio Costa)

33603 Kolloquium Forschungskolloquium Soziologie

33862 Hauptseminar Del ecofeminismo hacia las políticas del cuerpo: debates teóricos y estudios de caso (mit Martha Zapata Galindo)

Wintersemester 2016/17                                 

30208 Hauptseminar Global Sociologies Environment, Gender and Southern Theory

33950 E-Learning Wissenschaftspraxis I (mit Barbara Fritz, Robert Lüdtke, Antonio Carbone)

Wintersemester 2015/16 und Sommersemester 2016

On maternity leave

Sommersemester 2015

Wintersemester 2014/2015

Soziale Ungleichheiten und die Weltregionen: Theorien und Diagnosen ( mit Sergio Costa/Barbara Fritz)

Entwicklungsmodel und Umwelt: neue soziale Konflikten

Sommersemester 2013

Neue Perspektiven auf soziale Bewegungen in Lateinamerika (mit Marius Haberland)

Research Interests

Political Sociology, Political Economy, Environmental Sociology, Rural Sociology, Social Inequalities, Social Theory, Social Movements, Latin American Studies, Brazilian Studies, Gender Studies, Comparative Sociology, Food and Commodity Studies.

Current Project: Bridging Environments: United by Food?

Support by: Margherita-von-Brentano-Zentrum, FU Berlin


Under which conditions does ‘bridging’ occur between the countryside and the urban centers in conflicts over socio-environmental inequalities related to food production relations? What prevents it from happening? There is a significant gap in the literature in political sociology on processes of ‘bridging’ and ‘brokerage’ across sites where problems arise and are addressed, from the local to global scales. When these processes are addressed in the literature, an intersectional analysis is missing. Often, women are attributed a leading role in grassroots mobilization whereas global agents and brokers are mostly associated with dominant masculinities. I address three aspects of the research problem. The first is the different categories of actors along lines of social class, gender and ethnicity who participate in interconnected struggles. The second is the multiple scales in which linkages between rural and urban sites take place, in the context of global food chains, ranging from processes at the local level, to those that reach the national political agenda and cross national borders. The third is the influence of different themes that make bridging either possible or unlikely to happen, including how the different materialities of nature intersect with social mobilizations.

Following from the theoretical understanding that bridging conflicts depends on concrete actions from social actors while being challenged by disconnections that exclude places and actors from global chains, I will conduct extended case studies of successful wide coalition-builiding, namely, Wir haben es satt (Germany) and Marcha das Margaridas (Brazil).

PhD Thesis

Brazil and Argentina are the second and the third largest producers respectively of genetically modified (GM) crops. The ten-year lag between the conversion of the majority of soy fields to GM soy in Argentina (1999) and Brazil (2009) relates to differences in social mobilization. By examining explanations for these different paths, the research addresses the conditions in which challengers from social movements changed the official pro-GMO policy and the conditions that prevented it happening. This situates the research in a wider problematic of the conditions for social participation in the trajectory of agrarian change. The research enquires not only into the role of national political contexts but also contextualizes these in relation to global agrarian capitalism. The theoretical framework establishes a dialogue between political economy and political sociology, mediated by a focus on social movements’ theory. It includes structural and actor-centred explanations, material and cultural dimensions, and a dialogue between social movement research and peasant studies. The analytical factors were placed in relation to one another in order to explain paths of social disputes over GMOs, classified in two ideal types of outcomes: a situation of hegemony or of controversy.

The study draws on methods of macro-analytical qualitative comparisons, adopting a research design of “most similar, different outcomes” while adding a time dimension to explain changes in the trajectories. The main data consists of 28 in-depth interviews with key activists during the years 2012 and 2013. The core of the empirical work is the reconstruction of almost two decades of social mobilization over GM crops. Based on that, the research provides key explanations for each outcome by identifying three main analytical factors: organizational bases and networks, contentious meanings, and structure of political opportunities. These are articulated in an explanatory model: early social mobilization – with mobilizing structures and contentious meanings – is a necessary condition to participate in the shaping of policy; but it is not sufficient as it depends on a third condition, namely, a favourable structure of political opportunities. The latter is influenced, in turn, by the national political economy and the structural location of these countries in global commodity chains (GCCs). Activists in producer nodes face harder challenges as commodities are important sources of private and state revenues. The agrarian poor bear the global socio-environmental burden of GCCs, resulting in their social mobilization if mobilizing structures and meanings are given. Finally, the perception that the locus of decision-making lies in national politics facilitates mobilization, while the perception that politics is manly determined by global market dynamics is demobilizing.

The thesis argues that the transformation of Argentina and Brazil into top world producers of GM crops cannot be explained by biotechnology performance but by political struggles, in which social movements and the rural poor were silenced, ignored, or demobilized by a network of actors in favour of GMOs. The argument highlights the relevance of studying political struggles over GMOs at least for two reasons, one empirical and one theoretical. Firstly, unravelling the complex history of the domination of GMOs in two countries that are propagated as breadbaskets of the world is informative to the wider global debate on agrarian futures and food security. Secondly, the issue of GMOs is also illustrative of contemporary challenges of how social mobilization and rights claims can counter systemic imperatives of global capitalism and political interests.


Motta, R (in print). Mobilização social, capitalismo global e lutas pela alimentação: um estudo comparado da Argentina e do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Fiocruz.

Motta, R. (2016). Social Mobilization, Global Capitalism and Struggles over Food: A Comparative Study of Social Movements. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Edited Books

Jelin, E.,Costa, S. & Motta, R. (2017) (eds.). Global Entangled Inequalities: Concepts and Evidence from Latin America. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Peer Reviewed Articles

Arancibia, F. & Motta, R. (online first). Undone Science and Counter-Expertise: Fighting for Justice in an Argentine Community Contaminated by Pesticides. Science as Culture.

Motta, R. (2016). Global Capitalism and the National State in the Struggles over GM Crops in Brazil. Journal of Agrarian Change, 16(4), 720-27.

Motta, R. (2016) Capitalismo Global y Estado Nacional en las Luchas acerca de los Cultivos Transgénicos en Brasil. Estudios Críticos del Desarrollo, 6 (11), 65-80.

Castro, F. de, & Motta, R. (2015). Environmental Politics under Dilma: Changing Relations between the Civil Society and the State. LASA Forum, XLVI(3), 25-27.

Motta, R. (2015). Transnational Discursive Opportunities and Social Movement Risk Frames Opposing GMOs. Social Movement Studies, 14(5), 576–595.

Motta, R. (2014). Risco e modernidade uma nova teoria social? Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, 29(86), 15–27.

Motta, R. (2014). Social Disputes over GMOs: An Overview. Sociology Compass, 8(12), 1360–1376.

Motta, R., & Alasino, N. (2013). Medios y política en la Argentina: las disputas interpretativas sobre la soja transgénica y el glifosato. Question, 1(38), 323–335.

Motta, R. (2009). Sociologia de risco: globalizando a modernidade reflexiva. Sociologias, (22), 384–396.

Motta, R. (2009). Ciências Sociais na América Latina: Privilégio Epistémológico, Estilo Original. Revista Debates, 3(1), 9–26.

Motta, R. (2008). Biopolítica e neoliberalismo: a vigilância sanitária no limite da utilidade para o comércio internacional. Revista de Direito Sanitário, 9(2), 9–30.

Book Chapters

Motta, R. (2018). A criação de uma controvérsia sobre os transgênicos no Brasil. In A. Mueller & F. Soares. Modernidade sem Fronteiras: Desenvolvimento e Desigualdades Entrelaçadas. Ijuí, Rio Grande do Sul: Editora Unijuí, pp. 205-230.

Motta, R. (2017) Socio-Environmental Inequalities and GM crops: Class, Gender and Knowledge. Co-edition of book with Elizabeth Jelin and Sérgio Costa. Global Entangled Inequalities: Concepts and Evidence from Latin America. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Motta, R. (2016). La Movilización de Mujeres En Las Luchas Contra Los Cultivos Transgénicos En Argentina y Brasil. in Sustentabilidad desde abajo. Luchas desde el género y la etnicidad. Berlin, Buenos Aires: CLACSO. trAndeS. Freien Universität Berlin. Lateinamerika-Institut. Ministerio Federal de Cooperación Económica y Desarrollo. DAAD. Berlín. Pp. 145–68.

Motta, R. (2016). Peasant movements in Argentina and Brazil. In K. Dietz & B. Engels (Eds.) Contested extractivism, society and the state: Struggles over mining and land. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Motta, R., & Arancibia, F. (2016). Health experts challenging the safety of pesticides in Argentina and Brazil. In M. Chamberlain (Ed.), Medicine, Discourse and Power. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 179-206.

Góngora-Mera, M., & Motta, R. C. (2014). El derecho internacional y la mercantilización biohegemónica de la naturaleza: la diseminación normativa de la propiedad intelectual sobre semillas en Colombia y Argentina. In B. Göbel, M. Góngora-Mera, & A. Ulloa (Eds.), Desigualdades socioambientales en América Latina. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colómbia, pp. 395–433.

Motta, R. (2013). Risky Politics:  A Sociological Analysis of the WTO Panel on Biotechnological Products. In M. B. A. van Asselt, E. Versluis, & E. Vos (Eds.), Balancing between Trade and Risk: Integrating legal and social science perspectives. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 59–80.

Motta, R. (2013). Ganancias, abortos y cáncer: riesgos y desigualdades en torno a la soja transgénica en Argentina. In L. Vecslir (Ed.), Entre la incertidumbre y el riesgo. Reflexiones sobre la modernidad radicalizada en la América Latina (ebook). Bahia Blanca: EdiUNS.

Motta, R., & Sobral, F. (2009). O risco dos OGMs: um conflito entre os campos político, científico e econômico. In A. M. Fernandes & S. Raninscheski (Eds.), Américas Compartilhadas. São Paulo: Francis, pp. 197–219.


Working Papers

Motta, R., Poth, C. and Rauchecker, M. (2016). The Construction and (De)legitimation of Knowledge: The Biotechnological Agrarian Model in Argentina. desiguALdades.net Working Paper Series 96. Berlin: desiguALdades.net International Research Network on Interdependent Inequalitie in Latin America.

Motta, R. (2013). The public debate about agrobiotechnology in Latin American countries: a comparative study of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. ECLAC Production Development Series 193. Santiago de Chile: ECLAC.


Book reviews

Motta, R. (2019). Review of Estado e movimentos sociais: uma pesquisa no Incra, by Camila Penna. Garamond, 2015. Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, 34: 100.

Motta, R. (2018). Review of Soybeans and Power: Genetically Modified Crops, Environmental Politics, and Social Movements in Argentina, by Pablo Lapegna. Oxford University Press, 2016. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (ERLACS), 105: Rev. 10.

Motta, R. (2017). Review of Brazil’s Emerging role in Global Governance: Health, Food Security and Bioenergy, by Markus Fraundorfer. Palgrave & Macmillan, 2016. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (ERLACS), 104.

Work in progress

Book review: “Conexões e controvérsias no Incra de Marabá: o Estado como um ator heterogêneo”, by Camila Penna (Editora Garamond, 2015). Agreed submission to Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais. Submitted: February 2017.

Book review: Beyond civil society: activism, participation, and protest in Latin America. Sonia E. Alvarez, Jeffrey W. Rubin, Millie Thayer, Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Augustín Laó-Montes, eds., Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. Latin American Politics and Society. Submitted: June 2018.

Chapter: “Dynamics of Demobilization in South America” for The Oxford Handbook of Latin American Social Movements. Co-authors: Pablo Lapegna and Maritza Paredes. Submission due: February 2018.

(with Marco Antônio Teixeira). Daisies' March: solidarity-building across difference in a context of transnational connectivity. Paper accepted to be submitted to Symposium: Transnational objects, activist solidarities, feminist analytics. Brown University, Ontario, Canada.

(with Marco Antônio Teixeira). Intersectionality and alliance building in the Brazilian World March of Women: the Daisies March. Accepted to be submitted to a Special Issue "The politics of alliances The making and breaking of social movement coalitions in polarized societies" (Guest editors Sabrina Zajak, Britta Baumgarten and Sebastian Haunss). Social Movement Studies.

(with Markus Rauchecker). Grüne Technik. Beitrag für Glosar: ABC der Land- und Rohstoffkonflikte. edited by Sarah Kirst, Jan Brünner, Louise Prause). Transcript Verlag.


Non-academic publications

2016. Gleiches Übel, unterschiedliche Wege: Wie gentechnisch veränderte Soja in Argentinien und Brasilien Fuß fasste. Zeitschrift der Informationsstelle Lateinamerika (ila), 398, 4-6.

2012. "GM soy producers and crop sprayer face criminal charges", GM Watch, August 20. Available at: http://gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2012/14133-verdict-expected-on-gm-soy-producers-charged-over-pesticide-spraying