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New Perspectives on Inequalities in Latin America

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to fund joint research project run by the Institute for Latin American Studies at Freie Universität and the Ibero-American Institute of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz

№ 11/2010 from Jan 15, 2010

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding a joint research project by Freie Universität and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) to investigate social, economic, and political inequalities in Latin America. In their research, scholars from Freie Universität’s Institute for Latin American Studies (LAI) and the Foundation’s Ibero-American Institute (IAI) intend to develop new perspectives on the inequalities in Latin America. The research grant amounts to 3.7 million euros over four years.

The Research Network on Interdependent Inequalities in Latin America is one of four competence networks in Germany supported by the BMBF with the aim of strengthening and further developing area studies. The project sets out to consolidate an international research network investigating the question of how goods and resources are distributed in Latin America, and how participation in social interaction and positions of power is shaped by transregional structures of interdependence.

What has a steak from Brazil on a plate in Europe got to do with soybean cultivation in Amazonia, and what social inequalities result from these interrelations? What new opportunities for social mobility do Chinese factories producing cheap goods offer the educationally deprived classes in Mexico City? What explanations and insights could Latin American and European inequalities research offer here? These are some of the issues that scholars in this competence network will be investigating.

Inequality is more than just a question of justice, poverty, or dependence. The patterns of inequalities are a multilayered, multi-dimensional, and networked phenomenon, covering and crossing the regions of the world. For this reason, the scholars involved in this competence network want to consider both existing and new concepts and expressions of inequalities.

The project is led by the sociologist Prof. Sérgio Costa and political scientist Prof. Marianne Braig, both from the Institute for Latin American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, and ethnologist Dr. Barbara Göbel, Director of the Ibero-American Institute of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.

The project is intended to generate synergies both in area studies and between social science research into inequalities in Germany and Latin America. Since the approach taken focuses specifically on the link between research and practice, the core institutions in the competence network in Germany not only include the LAI and IAI, but also the German Institute for Development Policy (DIE) and the Institute of Latin American Studies of the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA-ILAS). Another 50 institutions in Europe, Latin America, and the USA are also taking part in the project.

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