Regional Identities in multiple crisis

Intensive debates on collective identities in the (post-) colonial societies of Latin America demonstrate quite clearly the ways in which crises are linked to identity formation. Creole and white identities have been called into question since the 1990s, while indigenous and Afro-American identities have experienced deep cultural-political changes, which have been institutionally established and expressed in the reformulation of several constitutions. In this process, engagement in identity politics on the regional level has often followed the pattern of strategically proclaimed geocultural differences. The aim of this research group is the paradigmatic analysis of how interpretive patterns (on the regional level) are used in crisis situations. To that end, the research group will address the following dimensions:

a) Narratives of Development, Enlightenment, and Crisis

The insular presence of Enlightenment movements and a small middle class are two commonly referred-to features in explaining non-Western social constellations in Latin America, which are often referred to as deficits. By combining methods from literature, cultural studies, and linguistics (discourse analysis), this research group will seek to identify the significance of those narratives in Enlightenment literature and will explore how they have been perpetuated since independence movements in Latin American.

b) Between Strategic Regionalism and Global Thinking

In discussions about globalization, intertextual and transatlantic-oriented literature often posits the presence of a regionally-situated, geocultural difference. Regionalism and identity as a form of “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 a return to the ethical function of culture and authorship in the age of globalization.

c) Economic Reorientation

In recent decades, China has cultivated an important and growing economic influence in various regions of Latin America, during the course of which cultural and social exchanges have increased. However, power relationships are asymmetrical and conflicts frequently arise due to the local populations’ rejection of Chinese resource extraction and infrastructure projects. This third focus will investigate which (and whether) new transnational spaces, practices, identities, and social crises may result from Chinese economic interests in Latin America.