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).

Dzehkabtun Archaeological Project

Dzehkabtun is an archaeological site of the Early to Terminal Classic Periods of Mayan Culture, located in the northern part of Campeche, Mexico. It first became known to the academic world during Teobert Maler’s 1887 visit, when he photographed and also made maps and descriptions of several buildings and monuments in the centre of the settlement.

The archaeological project at Dzehkabtun was based on a preliminary investigation, coonducted in 2008 by a team from the University of Bonn under the direction of Dr. Iken Paap. During the 2008 survey, the site's centre was mapped, and it turned out that Dzehkabtun had been much bigger and architecturally more diverse than had been previously assumed: among other traits, whole patio groups seem to have been modified by large-scale building activities during the Terminal Classic. These late structures differ in some aspects of their construction and their spatial concept from the 'c-shaped structures' of the neighbouring Puuc zone.

Part of these structures have been excavated in order to answer questions about the continuity or disruption from Late to Terminal Classic times, the socio-political structure and the reasons for the abandonment of the classic centres of the central Yucatan Peninsula into a broad regional context. In addition the mapping of the settlement had been continued.

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Sachbeihilfe).

Duration: 2012-2018.

Coordination: Dr. Iken Paap

Project website:


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).

Giving focus to the Cultural Scientific and Social Dimension of EU-CELAC Relations (EULAC Focus)

EULAC-Focus is a bi-regional collaborative project seeking toreinforce a common vision between the European Union (EU) and theCommunity of Latin America and and Caribbean States (CELAC).During thepast decade relations between the two regions were characterized by afragmentation of political spaces and institutions as well as diverseand even diverging interests on both sides of the Atlantic. In order toregain a joint direction, the project seeks to identify contributions,potentials and challenges of the cultural, scientific and socialdimension of bi-regional relations. The analysis will lead to a set ofstrategic recommendations.In the project 19 institutions— 9 from Europeand 10 from Latin America and the Caribbean— work closely together. Theconsortium encompasses not only universities and non-university researchinstitutions; it also includes ministries of research and fundingagencies as well as science-policy institutions.Thus, the main objectiveof the EULAC Focus project is to ‘give focus’ to EU–CELAC relations. Todo so, it pays special attention to bi-regional relations between theEuropean Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and CaribbeanStates (CELAC), in three dimensions: social, scientific and cultural.Each of these dimensions is addressed in a specific thematic WorkingPackages (Work Package 3: social dimensions, Work Package 4: scientificdimensions; Work Package 5: cultural dimensions). These three thematicpillars are complemented by two horizontal Work Packages. While WorkPackage 2 analyses the cross-cutting topics: mobility, inequality,diversity, and sustainability, Work Package 6 is in charge of the visionbuilding process.The Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (IAI) coordinatesWork Package 2: Cross Cutting Pathways. The four cross-cutting topics:mobility, inequality, diversity, and sustainability, are analysed foreach thematic dimension. In addition, overlaps and interconnectionsamong them are also explored.

Coordination: Dr. Barbara Göbel, Duration: 2016-2020

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

Immigration Guides as Source Material for Immigration History: The Example of Brazil

German immigration to the New World became a mass phenomenon in the nineteenth century. Prospective emigrants could gather information on destinations and opportunities from special societies and a variety of publications. A growing number of “immigration guides” were published from the mid-nineteenth century onward. Using Brazil as an example, our project will examine this previously neglected category of source material in order to find out what information immigrants received about countries and their inhabitants, what travel arrangements they were advised to make, and how the guides described life in German colonies.

Coordination: Dr. Ricarda Musser, Duration: 2015-2021

German Travelers to Portugal and Their Travel Accounts in the Age of Maria II (1834-1853)

Improved infrastructures caused a boom in travel activity in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. Nonetheless, the countries of the Iberian Peninsula remained a terra incognita for quite some time. With the end of the civil war in 1834 and Queen Maria II's ascension to power, a growing number of Germans published accounts of their travels to Portugal. This project examines the individuals who traveled to Portugal in this period, why they did so, what they described, and what image of Portugal they projected to reading audiences in Germany.

Coordination: Dr. Ricarda Musser, Duration: 2015-2021

Cultural Magazines of Latin America

In this acquisition and digitalization project, the IAI plans to acquire numerous individual issues of Latin American cultural magazines from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. As regards the acquisition of cultural magazines within the scope of the application, the institute selected countries from which it already held individual titles, most often in incomplete sets. A second criterion was that issues of these magazines had to be currently offered for sale, either in digital form, on microfilm or on paper.

In the relevant secondary literature the genre is not clearly distinguished from other periodical formats. In terms of content, cultural magazines focus on a great variety of topics. This diversity points to a broad concept of culture which in addition to the disciplines in the humanities that are oriented toward cultural studies also explicitly includes the natural sciences. This interdisciplinary approach is perhaps the most important feature of the cultural magazines published between 1860 and 1930.

The selected countries—Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Puerto Rico—reflect concrete demand from researchers and also form a balanced geographical cross-section of the IAI’s collection area. As permitted by law, the institute will digitize the periodicals using the Goobi workflow system and make them available through the relevant library reference tools.

Coordination: Dr. Ricarda Musser, Duration: 2013-2021

2021 || Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Preussischer Kulturbesitz