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

Latin America occupies an unparalleled position among the regions of the Global South in its output of creative cultural and political strategies to address the multiple crises that have called into question the established social and political order. While these crises often create a chaotic atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, they simultaneously open the door for social change and forge new paths for development. Early decolonization processes, models of political and economic emancipation, innovative cultural products, dealing with mass migration and cultural recognition, innovative concepts for managing present conflicts and efforts of reconciliation with the past, confronting tensions involved with the ecological limits of economic growth – all of these issues demonstrate Latin America’s significant experience in dealing with multiple crises. In facing these challenges, theoretical and empirical approaches are generated that are of importance not only for the region, but also for the general understanding and solving of 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. What 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 institutionalized?

Questions of this ilk will be explored in the context of CALAS’ research matrix, which consists of four separate but strongly thematically interrelated research groups:

1.) Visions of peace: Transitions between violence and peace in Latin America (2019-2021)

2.) Confronting Social Inequality: Perspectives on wealth and power (2021-2022)

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) Theorizing Crisis and

b) 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 publication channels.