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Focus 2 · Globalization and Mobility of Cultural and Natural Heritage in Ibero-America

​​​​​​​First lines of research

RESEARCH FOCUS · Dynamic relationship between mobility and cultural heritage and the natural environment · Dynamics of natural and cultural borders · Processes by which cultural and natural “commodities” are circulated in Ibero-America · Socio-environmental change across scales

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.

Fokus2 Hcias En

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

    A historically induced, all too understandable anticolonial sentiment has caused Latin American research programs in Germany and beyond to highlight the autonomy of societies in the Americas and in this way, the interaction that has connected them to European groups, peoples, and societies in past and present is being downplayed. However, the mobility of cultural and natural heritage in Ibero-America is set within a much larger, more vibrant framework of exchanges and interactions both within Latin America and between the Americas and Europe. The line of research “Transcultural linkages” therefore aims to analyze such dynamics from multiple perspectives: It will study both material and immaterial movements of ideas, literature, cultural practices, people, and commodities. It will pay due credit to interactive, bidirectional communication, thus revealing under-researched flows from the Americas to Europe. Regional differences and peculiarities will also be taken into account.

    The research conducted within this field shows two further traits: Firstly, a certain focus is placed on the Mediterranean area. This is due to the fact that a high percentage of European migrants to the Americas in the past have hailed from the wider Mediterranean region and that this area is presently the preferred destination of South American migrants to Europe. This has had and will continue to have an immediate impact on cultural practices, flows of ideas, and literary tropes, amongst others. Secondly, our research is sensitive to the historicity of transcultural dynamics, past and present, because it is impossible to appropriately address current and future challenges without understanding their respective cultural backdrops. Therefore, the bases for conducting effective research in this field are the knowledge of relevant source languages, being aware of the intricacies of cultural dynamics, and recognizing the temporal framing of individuals, groups, and societies, up to the present day.


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latest revision: 2022-05-05
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