Bielefeld University coordinates the "Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences" (CALAS), headquartered at the University of Guadalajara, a strategic partner university of Bielefeld.
Since 2017, German and Latin American universities have been setting up the structures for the international Center for Advanced Studies in Guadalajara under the coordination of Bielefeld University. It is the most comprehensive research project on Latin America sponsored with funds from Germany.
In the main phase that has now begun, international fellows - visiting scholars - are exploring six aspects of crisis management in and for Latin America. The concept of the international research college is based on the idea of Bielefeld Center's for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF).
From March onwards, Bielefeld University's Professor Dr Olaf Kaltmeier will continue coordinating the project, in which the universities of Kassel, Hanover and Jena will also be participating on the German side. In Latin America, in addition to the Mexican partner university Guadalajara, the regional campuses San José (Costa Rica), Quito (Ecuador) and Buenos Aires (Argentina) are also involved.
"After the two-year preliminary phase, we are now bringing together up to 25 international fellows alternately at the Center for Advanced Studies in formats designed for dialogue and exchange. The researchers come from different regions, various disciplines of the humanities and social sciences and are at different career levels. This is what makes interdisciplinary teamwork so attractive," says historian Olaf Kaltmeier, adding: "The premise of the project remains the same: we do research with our colleagues from Latin America, not over their heads."
Three examples showing the work of the CALAS project in its main phase:
- - In May, the Laboratory of Knowledge, which investigates transitions between violence and peace in Latin America, will be launched. The project leaders are Professor Dr Joachim Michael (Bielefeld University), Professor Dr Christine Hatzky (University of Hanover), and Professor Dr David Díaz and Professor Dr Werner Mackenbach (University of Costa Rica).
- How do Latin American countries deal with environmental crises? A group led by Professor Dr Olaf Kaltmeier and Professor Dr Eleonora Rohland, also from Bielefeld University is investigating this.
- In the preliminary phase of the project, a Spanish-language essay series and a publishing network of Latin American partners were established under Bielefeld's direction in cooperation with Bielefeld University Press. Both will be continued and further developed in the main phase.
The idea for the project in the form of a research college goes back to the working methods of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research, which is regarded as the nucleus of the university. International researchers from various disciplines come together here in working and research groups to investigate a particular question. "We are now taking this concept as a model for the CALAS main phase and adapting it - in dialogue with our partners - to the Latin American context," says Olaf Kaltmeier.
CALAS was approved within the BMBF funding line "Maria Sibylla Merian Centres" and will now be continued in the main phase. With these research colleges, the BMBF aims to advance the internationalisation of the humanities, cultural sciences and social sciences in Germany through close bilateral and multilateral collaborative projects at locations outside Germany. CALAS was approved in 2017 as the second centre ever in Germany within this funding line.