Accepted Papers:

Latin America research in the context of comparative area studies  

Author:

Bert Hoffmann (GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on the experience of the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, which integrates institutes on Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America, the presentation will reflect on the promises and possibilities, but also on some of the problems of a comparative area studies approach for research on Latin America.

Paper long abstract:

While area studies have great assets in their in-depth regional knowledge and their interdiscipinary approaches, traditionally their standing in the systematic disciplines has not been an easy one. Area studies scholars have forcefully rejected a generalized critique of supposed “parrochialism” voiced against them and underscored the important contributions of area studies to key debates of the past decades. However, also an important process of self-reflection has developed in the field. Historically, area studies have developed as single-area studies: As communities of knowledge on specific regions. Due to limited interaction with the scholarship on other world regions, these not always have lived up to their full potential.

As a result, area studies scholars have sought new paradigms to insert their regional expertise into a wider context by advancing global studies or by highlighting the links and inter-relations, which are brought to center stage in trans-national and trans-regional approaches. Another conceptual approach to overcome some of the limitations of single-county or single-region studies and to better link area studies to the broader disciplinary debates has emerged under the label of Comparative Area Studies (CAS).

The presentation will present this approach and reflect on the experience of the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, which integrates institutes on Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America, and which has adopted a Comparative Area Studies perspective as a key for integrating research across these areas along thematic lines. It will sketch the promises and possibilities of this endeavor, but also address some of the problems and challenges of a comparative area studies approach for research on Latin America.

panel P50
New approaches and clusters for Latin American Studies in Germany