CALAS/HIAS Fellowship: Illegalized drugs in Latin America and beyond

The Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CALAS) and the Hamburg Institute for Advanced Study (HIAS) appoint outstanding scholars, scientists, and artists from Latin American research institutions to pursue their research projects for four months on-site in Hamburg and two months at Bielefeld University, Germany.

This call for applications concerns research projects related to illegalized drugs in Latin America and beyond. Contemporary shifts in the global drug prohibition regime are accompanied by high indices of violence related to drug trafficking. Some governments in Latin America set in motion legalization processes, especially of cannabis, to counter illegal flows of funds and high incarceration rates. Also, North American and European countries like Germany set the first steps to regulate the possession, consumption, and production of cannabis according to public health approaches or commercial perspectives. At the UN meeting in September 2022, Colombian President Guillermo Petro argued emphatically for ending the devastating ecological and social effects of anti-cultivation operations and militarization. However, drug trafficking adapts to policy conjunctures and substance demand on multiple levels. The balloon effect describes the changing localities where drug trafficking routes and violent encounters over local power surface in response to law enforcement operations, especially in Colombia and Mexico. However, in Ecuador, recent political violence has been linked to criminal organizations. Chile and Argentina also account for escalating activities of drug trafficking, production, and violence. All of this requires creative interdisciplinary research approaches in light of the multiple disputes over territory related to drug trafficking. The general objective of the fellowship is to connect spatial perspectives on drug policies, drug trafficking, and violence. Particularly, territorial control and its changing actors, informal alliances, and processes of territorialization in Latin America deserve fresh insights in terms of cultural reproduction, narratives, or sociology of violence.

Researchers from all disciplines and at all stages of their careers, from postdoctoral level onwards, are welcome to apply. This call is open to candidates from all Latin American countries and covers a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, especially political sociology, history, cultural studies, and gender studies.

Candidates are required to be internationally recognized in their areas of specialization, to demonstrate creativity and originality in their interdisciplinary approaches, and to show a willingness and curiosity to integrate into a multidisciplinary community of researchers and artists. In addition, candidates are expected to interact with the general public through lectures and other similar activities. A solid proficiency in English, both in written and oral expression, is crucial.

The CALAS/HIAS fellowship offers a competitive stipend for a four-month stay at HIAS in Hamburg (February to May) and two months at the Center for InterAmerican Studies (CIAS) at Bielefeld University (June and July) - subject to project extension approval. This scholarship programme provides a monthly stipend for living expenses, health insurance, working materials, visa and other associated costs. For those applicants who maintain their salary in a permanent position, the scholarship can be used to fund a teaching replacement during their absence. In addition, the scholarship will cover the costs of airfare to and from Germany.

Scholarship holders are required to reside at the respective CALAS or HIAS cities throughout the duration of the scholarship and to participate in the activities and events organized by the corresponding institution.

During the stay, HIAS and Bielefeld University will provide the visiting fellow with a workplace with internet access and the university's infrastructure (library, etc.). Additionally, they will receive support in finding accommodation, completing bureaucratic formalities on-site, obtaining the required visa, etc.

CALAS/HIAS is committed to inclusive and gender parity. Applications from people with special needs are expressly welcomed. CALAS/HIAS also welcomes partners and accompanying children of scholarship holders.


Planned tasks for the CALAS/HIAS fellowship in Hamburg and Bielefeld

  • Develop of a research project that is related to the thematic focus of the call and its main research questions.
  • Publish of the results of the investigation (academic article/s).
  • Teach a course in the Master program in Interamerican Studies at Bielefeld University (English or Spanish). The course should include the organization of exams and other student evaluation methods.
  • Carry out at least one public academic activity (lecture or conference) at each host institution during the stay.
  • Prepare a 10-page final report on all activities carried out during the period of the fellowship.



The online application form must be filled out and include the following documents in English:

  • Motivation letter stating how the project fits into the thematic focus of the call and what your expectations are.
  • Two-page curriculum vitae with a list of relevant publications and courses taught in English and/or German.
  • Summary of the research project, including a timeline and work plan, with a maximum of 20 bibliographic sources (max. 2,000 words). The proposed project establishes new perspectives/ways of thinking and shows potential for connections with other disciplines.
  • Proposal for an interdisciplinary course (max. 1 page with title and brief course description) to be taught at Bielefeld University (English or German).
  • Copy of most recent academic degree certificates.



Deadline for submission of application: May 31, 2024

Announcement of results: July 31, 2024

Start of the fellowship: February 1, 2025 (February to May in Hamburg; June and July in Bielefeld).


Further information on the CALAS/HIAS fellowships:

Prof. Dr. Olaf Kaltmeier, Bielefeld University



Bielefeld and Hamburg, Germany