Intensive debates on collective identities in the (post-) colonial societies of Latin America demonstrate quite clearly the ways in which crises are linked with identity formation. While creole and white identities have been put into question since the 1990s, indigenous and Afro-American identities have managed to establish deep cultural-political changes, which find their institutional expression in the reformulation of several constitutions. In this process, the use of the regional level as a framework for identity politics has often followed the pattern of strategically proclaimed geocultural differences. The aim of this research group is the paradigmatic analysis of how interpretive patterns (of the regional level) are used in crisis situations. To that end the research group addresses the following dimensions:
a) Narratives of Development, Enlightenment, and Crisis: The insular presence of Enlightenment movements and a small middle class are two common explanations for non-Western social constellations in Latin America, which are often referred to as deficits. By mixing the methods of literature, cultural studies, and linguistics (discourse analysis), this research group will try to identify the significance of those narratives in the existing Enlightenment literature and will explore how they have been perpetuated since Latin American independence.
b) Between Strategic Regionalism and Global Thinking. In discussions about globalization, inter-textually and transatlantically-oriented literature often posits a geocultural difference, which is situated regionally. Regionalism and identity as a “strategic essentialism” (Spivak) are used for the production of material, institutional, and symbolic-discursive identities of a region and of social actors. In this way, they are also used in the deconstruction of the geopolitical center-periphery debate. With this focus, the research group explores the performative use of geocultural difference as the return to the ethical function of culture and authorship in the age of globalization.
c) Economic Reorientation: In recent decades, China has developed a growing and important economic influence in various regions of Latin America, in the course of which cultural and civic exchanges have increased. However, power relationships are asymmetrical, and frequent conflicts arise from the local population’s rejection of Chinese resource extraction and infrastructure projects. This third focus will investigate whether and which new transnational spaces, practices, identities, and social crises Chinese economic interests may cause in Latin America.