Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz


Historical photo of textile machine




Completed Projects

Brazil in the Americas: Convergencies and Perspectives

As an economic and political power in South America, Brazil has been attempting to strengthen its international position for years. Of primary importance are relations with its neighboring Hispano-American countries and with the United States. Traditionally Brazil’s relationship with the Americas has oscillated between (a) a disinterested aloofness toward Hispano-American countries that is nourished by the desire for an intensive relationship with Europe or the United States, (b) a rivalry with its South American neighbors that has its historical roots in the colonial disputes between Spain and Portugal, and (c) the role as a stabilizing and cooperative force in Latin America. Two project conferences have taken place in cooperation with the Latin American Institute of the Free University of Berlin (Sérgio Costa) and the Universidad de Chile (Horst Nitschack): “Brasilien im amerikanischen Kontext um 1900” (“Brazil in the American Context around 1900,” October 2002) and “O Brasil e as Américas – Convergencias e Perspectivas / Brazil and the Americas – Convergences and Perspectives” (December 2004). (Project coordinator: Dr. Peter Birle).

Cataloging the Papers of Max Uhle (1856-1944), Specialist in Ancient American Studies

The goal of the project was not only to catalog the materials available at the Ibero-American Institute (IAI) from the estate of Max Uhle (1856-1944) – one of the most important German specialists in Amerindian studies – but also to make his papers more accessible to researchers. The materials were formally inventoried and indexed between 2001 and 2003 with the financial support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation). More than 650 titles were entered into the IAI’s catalog and over 250 works were listed in databases throughout Germany. (Project coordinators: Dr. Gregor Wolff/Dr. Peter Masson)

Cataloging the Papers of Robert Lehmann-Nitsche (1872-1938)

This project had several goals: to formally catalog the papers of the ethnologist Robert Lehmann-Nitsche, to make these materials accessible for scholarship and research worldwide, and to edit and release unpublished manuscripts. Lehmann-Nitsche, who lived in La Plata from 1897 to 1930, undertook numerous journeys through Argentina. He studied the anthropology, mythology, ethnology and folklore of the La Plata region, with a special focus on Creole folklore (also Gaucho culture). The IAI holds photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, manuscripts and an important collection of popular literature, the Biblioteca Criolla. As part of the cataloging project, the papers will also be digitized. The Ethnology Museum possesses letters, notes and sound recordings on phonograph cylinders. The cataloging work, which was part of a project undertaken by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), started in October 2007 and was finished in 2009. (Project coordination: Dr. Gregor Wolff)

Identity constructions of the German socialists in the Argentina of the late 19th century

The numbers of the German migration to Argentina are not comparable with those from Italy and Spain. Nevertheless, the “German colony” remained a controversial topic for the Argentinian public opinion. In contrast to earlier approaches that dealt mainly with the question of the “assimilation” or “integration” of the migrants and their descendants in the Argentinian society, this project focuses on the identity constructions that the migrant groups created about themselves and their environment after decades of interaction both with the country of origin and with the host society. The object of the analysis was the group of German socialists, who played an important role in the emergence of the Argentinian labour movement. The project was completed with the publication of a bilingual anthology of the newspaper Vorwärts, which appeared in Buenos Aires between 1886 and 1901. This newspaper is a source that reveals the identity constructions of the German socialists as well as the mechanisms and boundaries of the transnational transfer of ideas between both countries. (Project coordinator: Dr. Sandra Carreras)

Portraying the Foreign as Familiar: Curators and Cultural Managers as Mediators of Globalized Art Worlds

The reproduction of images of the self and the other is to a large degree the work of the curators and cultural managers who are responsible for conceiving and organizing cultural events. Viewing a foreign culture through the eyes of the recipient country, they project it onto their own culture or adapt it to a preformed image. Also in play are certain codices of the international culture industry that render the exoticism of the unknown decipherable at the national level. In this project we wish to explore the contribution made by curators and cultural managers as mediators and constructors of globalized art worlds. In the context of the event and exhibition series MEXartes-berlin.de (2002), Graciela Schmilchuk conducted and evaluated interviews with its curators. In December 2003, the IAI hosted the colloquium Kuratoren, Kunstmarkt und Politik in Lateinamerika (Curators, the Art Market and Politics in Latin America) in cooperation with the Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información de Artes Plásticas (Mexico). In addition, the project director took on the task of coordinating the working group “Filosofía y conceptos de los centros culturales” (Philosophy and Concepts of Cultural Institutions) within the Red de Centros Culturales de América y Europa (2002-2007). (Project coordinator: Dr. Friedhelm Schmidt-Welle).

Perceptions of Latin America in European Literature, Film and Advertising / Perceptions of Europe in Latin American Literature, Film and Advertising

This project is focused on investigating reciprocal processes of perception and reception with regard to the representation of the experience of otherness in literature, film and advertising. It will also analyze the repercussions of these foreign images for self-perception and the discursive construction of cultural identities. In July 2004 the IAI invited literary agents, literary scholars, directors of cultural institutions, editors and translators to take part in the symposium “Die Rezeption lateinamerikanischer Literatur in Deutschland: aktuelles Stand und Perspektiven” (“The Reception of Latin American Literature in Germany: Current Status and Perspectives”). The proceedings were published in 2007 in the work Lateinamerikanische Literatur im deutschsprachigen Raum (Latin American Literature in German-Speaking Regions, edited by Diana Römer and Friedhelm Schmidt-Welle). An interdisciplinary collection of articles on the reciprocal perception of Germany and Latin America in the twentieth century was also published in 2007: Wechselseitige Rezeptionsprozesse Deutschlands und Lateinamerikas im 20. Jahrhundert (Reciprocal Processes of Reception in Germany and Latin America in the Twentieth Century, edited by Peter Birle and Friedhelm Schmidt-Welle). In 2008 took place the symposium "La revolución mexicana en la literatura y el cine" in cooperation with the University of Guadalajara, the DAAD and the Cátedra Guillermo y Alejandro de Humboldt. Furthermore, in 2011 the project coordinator published a book on perceptions of Mexico in European and US literature and the mass media. (Project coordinator: Dr. Friedhelm Schmidt-Welle)

National Socialism and Latin America

This project was concerned with the history of the IAI between 1933 and 1945 and with the question of whether and how leading staff cooperated with the National Socialist Party and governmental officials. It also examined relations with Latin America in the Nazi era, viewing them in the context of both intellectual history and the academic exchange between Germany and Latin America in the first half of the twentieth century. Further, project participants studied the reverberations of these relations beyond this period. One outcome of the project was the publication in 2003 of the collection Ein Institut und sein General: Wilhelm Faupel und das Ibero-Amerikanische Institut in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus (An Institute and Its General: Wilhelm Faupel and the Ibero-American Institute in the Age of National Socialism). In May 2004 the institute held a conference entitled "Der Nationalsozialismus und Lateinamerika: Institutionen, Repräsentationen, Wissenskonstrukte” ("National Socialism and Latin America: Institutions, Representations, Knowledge Constructs"). The findings were published in the Ibero-Online series. In June 2005 the IAI co-organized the international symposium “Urbane Erinnerungskulturen: Berlin und Buenos Aires” (“Urban Cultures of Remembering: Berlin and Buenos Aires”). Numerous events at the IAI were devoted to describing and analyzing various facets of the relationship between Latin America and National Socialism. (Project coordinator: Dr. Sandra Carreras)

Formal Indexing and Scholarly Editing of Hirsch-Weber’s Papers

Wolfgang Hirsch-Weber’s papers were formally indexed and edited within the framework of the project financed by the DFG. Hirsch-Weber left more than 4,000 letters, published and unpublished manuscripts, transcripts of interviews with witnesses from Chile (1978-1983), notebooks, notes (single sheets), photos and other documents. Of particular importance is the correspondence from the years 1938-2000, among which an exchange of letters with leading researcher personalities from the time as well as with German and Latin American politicians and people engaged in the cultural sector can be found. Through the formal indexing, these papers were registered and made accessible on a Germany-wide and international basis via the Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund GBV (Collective Library Association), the Portal für Bibliotheken, Archive und Museen BAM (Portal for Libraries, Archives and Museums) and Kalliope’s database.

The editing of Hirsch-Weber’s papers was informed by three main objectives: 1) preparation and publication of a critical edition of the posthumous papers’ unpublished manuscripts with Hirsch-Weber’s memories of the years 1920 to 1940, which offer illuminating material for the study of the construction of memory vis-à-vis exile and migration; 2) making a contribution to research on the political activities of German immigrants in Latin America through the example of the organization “Das Andere Deutschland” (“The Other Germany”), including the holding of an international symposium; 3) making a contribution to the study of German-Latin American relations, with a focus on Chile and Bolivia and through the example of the international activities of German social democracy in the region. (Project coordinators: Dr Sandra Carreras/ Dr Gregor Wolff).

Modernity and Difference: Identity Constructs of Latin American “Hombres de Letras” in the Nineteenth Century and Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century

This project will investigate the postcolonial identity constructs of Latin American “hombres de letras” (“men of letters”) and intellectuals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as their relationship with European modernism. On the one hand, the hombres de letras and intellectuals drew on European cultural models, on the other, they attempted to define the ways they were different in their postcolonial worlds. In part, the project will analyze the fracturing of the intellectual elites and their discourses along feminist, postcolonial, postmodern, ethnic and other lines. In 2010, the symposium “La historia intelectual como historia literaria (México y Argentina)” was realized at the El Colegio de México. Coordination: Dr Friedhelm Schmidt-Welle.

German Scientists in Argentina (1850-1930)

The aim of this project is to analyze the activities of German scientists living in Argentina between 1850 and 1930. It starts from the premise that German scientists who stayed for a relatively long time in Argentina were protagonists of exchange and transfer processes between the two countries and therefore can be considered as important actors of trans-nationalization. The studied period begin with the reorientation of the research interests of the renowned zoologist Hermann Burmeister to South America, which continued with the tradition inaugurated by the American journey of Alexander von Humboldt and can also be seen as the start of a chain migration of scientists, and finishes with the end of the Weimar Republic. With its focus on the transnational aspect, the project aims to contribute to the questioning of the prevailing methodological nationalism. Finally, the analysis of specific forms of transfer of scientific practices from Germany to Argentina and vice versa by the scientists involved will allow a better understanding of the mechanisms of the cultural and scientific Transfer (Coordination: Dr. Sandra Carreras)

Documenta Grammaticae et Historiae, Part II: Portuguese

Documenta is a project in linguistic historiography. It aims to build a corpus of Brazilian and Portuguese grammars written between the 16th and the 19th century, to situate them in the historic contexts of their production and reception, to gather grammatical metaterms in order to build an electronic dictionary, and to make them available for further study and research. (Dr. Ulrike Mühlschlegel, in cooperation with Centro de Documentação em Historiografia Linguística (CEDOCH), Departamento de Linguística, Universidade de São Paulo).

Scientific Exchange between Germany and Chile since the Second Half of the Twentieth Century

Although Chile ranks among the smaller Latin American countries, traditionally it has played an significant role in the scientific relations between Germany and Latin America. For its part, Germany for a long time has been an important point of reference for Chilean students and scientists. The central objective of this project was to analyze the reciprocal academic influences and the formation of scientific networks between the two countries since the second half of the twentieth century. Chilean scientists who have written their doctoral thesis in Germany, and German scientists who have spent a longer time in Chile were asked, among other things, to what extent the stay abroad has affected their understanding of theory and methods, and what kind of scientific networks have originated from it. The role that German scientists and researchers have played in the development of the Chilean social sciences has also been researched. Lastly, the importance of German party foundations and faith-based relief organizations as well as of academic exchange programs for the scientific relations between both countries was analyzed. The project was carried out in cooperation with Dr Enrique Fernández (Universidad de Tarapacá) who was supported by a grant form the Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico, and Prof Dr Nikolaus Werz (Universität Rostock).

Coordination: Dr Peter Birle; Duration: 2014-2017



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