Focus 2Globalization and Mobility of Cultural and Natural Heritage

Based on the understanding of “globalization” as a narrative for mobility and varying forms of circulation, Focus 2 seeks to put current and historical phenomena of cultural and natural networking and cross-linking into perspective. This research area emphasizes the dynamic relationships between mobility on one hand, and cultural heritage and the natural environment and its relation to and potential uses for humanity on the other.

Working in harmony with heritage- and environment-related research at Heidelberg University, we share the idea that the natural environment is bound to social relations; that cultural heritage is not static but rather a (trans-)cultural, historical heritage; that natural and cultural heritage are the result of negotiations between individuals, institutions, and society (in their political and economic dimensions).

Research in focus 2 thus enables the identification and analysis of specific spaces of differing scales (regional contexts, regions, macro-regions) in geographic, cultural, historical, and functional perspectives, highlighting the dynamics that result from the imbrication of the material and the immaterial.

Bringing together the Ibero-American-related expertise of Heidelberg University’s Humanities and Environmental Sciences, research in this focus area is concentrated on the processes by which natural and cultural “commodities” are produced and circulated within Ibero-America and its closely related spaces. These dynamics, which in turn are also marked by limitations and exclusions, affect societies and objects, as well as immaterial heritage.

The lines of study are being developed with respect to current and future challenges concerning globalization and cultural and natural heritage, paying attention to their historical backdrop and development. We explore issues of mobility within Latin America and the natural and historical areas most closely linked to it, as well as the resulting networks of circulation within this area. With regard to natural heritage, this focus area tackles the reasons for and consequences of the exploitation of natural resources, the transformation of environments (particularly regarding human-induced climate change), and the formation of natural, social, and cultural landscapes.

First Lines of Research


Inequalities and socio-cultural conflicts in relation to environmental change and low-carbon transitions
Millennial and Apocalyptic Thinking: the Circulation of Ideas and Real Disasters
Natural Biodiversity and Cultural Manifestations
Transcultural Linkages