Research Program: Coping with Crises: Transdisciplinary Perspectives from Latin America

Like no other region in the Global South, Latin America is characterized by the creative search for cultural and political strategies addressing multiple crises that put into question the social and political order and often create a chaotic atmosphere of uncertainty and fear but that also support social change and open up new paths for development. Early decolonization processes, models of political and economic emancipation, innovative cultural productions, dealing with mass migration and cultural recognition, innovative concepts for managing present conflicts and grappling with the past, as well as recognizing the need to highlight the ecological limits of growth – all of these issues point to the importance and richness of Latin American experience in dealing with multiple crises. In this way, theoretical and empirical approaches are generated that may not only be of importance for the region but also for the general understanding and solving the current problems of humanity.


The transdisciplinary research at the Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies (CALAS) focuses on critical questions of how these crises and processes of change are triggered, accelerated, decelerated, perceived, and reflected, by different actors. Which strategies for dealing with crises on multiple levels arise in the process? How can new approaches to problem solving – including transregional approaches – be made more effective or be institutionalized?


Questions such as these will be explored in the context of CALAS’ research matrix, which consists of four separate but thematically strongly entangled research groups on

1.) Dealing with Violence – Resolving Conflicts (2019-2020)

2.) Confronting Social Inequality (2020-2022)

3.) Coping with Environmental Crises (2022-2023)

4.) Regional Identities in Multiple Crises (2023-2025)


These research groups are complemented by two conceptual transversal axes:

a) the theoretical-methodological meta-reflection in Theorizing Crisis and

b) the reflection of the role of Centers for Advanced Studies and academic knowledge-production in Latin America in the Global Knowledge Society.


In addition to the research groups and transversal axis, senior and junior fellows from associated institutions will conduct research stays at the CALAS centers, present their findings, and publish them in a suitable form via the CALAS Internet platform.