Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

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Mecila: Maria Sibylla Merian Centre Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America. Research Area: Medialities of Conviviality and Information Infrastructure

Duration2020 – 2026
CoordinationProf. Dr. Barbara Göbel

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung - BMBF

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1. Co-applicant

  • Freie Universität Berlin (General Coordination)
  • Universität zu Köln


2. Project Group


IAI staff


3. Short description

Point of departure

The Mecila - Maria Sibylla Merian International Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America (Mecila) examines past and present forms of social, political, and cultural conviviality in Latin America and the Caribbean. It employs conviviality as an analytical concept to describe ways of living together in specific contexts characterized by diversity and inequality. In order to achieve this, it links studies about interclass, interethnic, intercultural, interreligious and gender relations in Latin America and the Caribbean with studies about conviviality beyond the region. In doing so, the Centre aims to establish an innovative exchange with benefits for both European and Latin American research.

The Centre’s headquarters have been stablished in São Paulo (Brazil) by a consortium composed of three German institutions: Freie Universität Berlin (coordination); Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Berlin; and Universität zu Köln, Cologne, as well as four Latin American institutions: Universidade de São Paulo and Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento, São Paulo, Brazil, Instituto de Investigaciones en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales (CONICET / Universidad Nacional de La Plata), La Plata, Argentina, and El Colegio de México, Mexico City, Mexico. The Centre draws on the existing long-term cooperation between these institutions.

It is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) from 2020 until 2026.

The Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (IAI, Ibero-American Institute) coordinates together with the Instituto de Investigaciones en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales (CONICET / Universidad Nacional de La Plata) the Research Area: “Medialities of Conviviality and Information Infrastructure”. 

For more information see Mecila


The Centre’s research programme addresses convivial contexts in Latin America and the Caribbean through analysis of their history and their interrelations at local, regional, national, and global levels. These convivial contexts may have various spatial boundaries, corresponding to a neighbourhood, a municipality, a country, or to global or transnational spaces of a translocal or even a virtual nature. Three interdependent dimensions of convivial contexts are being studied: structures, negotiations and representations.

The Research Area "Medialities of Conviviality" analyses through the lens of inequality-difference processes of co-production, circulation and appropiation of knowledge, imaginaries and representations. This includes movements of persons, ideas, values and objects. The digital transformation is shaping the medialities of conviviality in new and unprecedented ways, reducing inequalities but also producing new inequalities. The role of new media will also be of interest for this Research Area. 

Task Schedule

Conceived as a transnational research network, Mecila articulates the pertinent research and outreach activities conducted by a group of 19 Principal Investigators and three Postdoctoral Investigators, who area based at the consortium institutions, in cooperation with 12 Associated Investigators from various institutions. Each year, several Mecila Senior Fellows, Mecila Junior Fellows and Thematic Research Fellows are recruited via calls for application to join the Centre and develop their own research projects, or to participate in specific activities. The Doctoral Fellowships are awarded to doctoral students who are enrolled in doctoral programmes at the institutions of the consortium. They usually consist of a 5-month research stay at the Sao Paulo Hub.

The Mecila Chair is awarded to scientists from the Latin American institutions of the consortium. It enables a 2.5 month research stay at one of the other Latin American institutions. Outstanding visiting scientists are invited to the Hub for short stays as São Paulo Research Visits to hold public conferences and develop specific collaborative activities. The Germany Research Visits, mainly for Latin American Principal Investigators, deepen the exchange with the German institutions of the consortium.

Expected Results

Mecila expects to create a space for the transnational production and circulation of knowledge, fostering symmetrical collaboration between institutions and researchers from different disciplines, countries and professional backgrounds, in order to contribute significantly to a better understanding of coexistence in unequal societies. Thus, the Center intends to be a learning space in which knowledge allows the recognition of creative solutions to the most relevant challenges of our time, both in the European and Latin American contexts.


4. Cooperation Partner / Institutions


  • Freie Universität Berlin (general coordination)
  • Universität zu Köln
  • Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
  • Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Instituto de Investigaciones en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales (CONICET / Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina)
  • El Colegio de México, Mexico City


5. Products




  • Digitalisation

    The IAI coordinates the digitalisation of materials in connection with the further development of the information structure of Mecila.

2021 || Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Preussischer Kulturbesitz