Long-Term Projects Highlight Potential for German-Mexican Cooperation

(08.07.19) Over the past few years, Mexico has evolved to become an important partner in scientific cooperation with Germany. This convergence was supported by the DFG and its Office Latin America and is reflected in a number of new partnerships with Mexican institutions. Representatives of the DFG visited partner organisation CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología) and different research institutions in May, with a view to strengthening and reinforcing relations.

During an event at CONACYT, the DFG delegation met the newly formed International Affairs team. On this occasion, the mutual interest in cooperation, which is based on an agreement signed in 1991 and renewed in 2014, was reinforced. Among the numerous joint initiatives in this period, the successful International Research Training Group 'Zwischen Räumen – Entre Espacios' ('Between Spaces') is particularly noteworthy, having been funded bilaterally by the two organisations over a period of nine years. A total of 122 doctoral researchers in the two countries were trained during the project completed in 2018 with the participation of Mexican and German researchers from the humanities and social sciences (detailed information is provided below).

However, this does not signal the end of joint funding of such complex and long-term projects. The new German-Mexican Research Training Group 'Temporalities of Future in Latin America: Dynamics of Aspiration and Anticipation' is being established this year – the second initiative of its kind to be jointly funded by the DFG and CONACYT. The new Research Training Group is also based in the social sciences and humanities and will be officially opened this October in Mexico City.

In addition to the visit to CONACYT, the trip to Mexico also included meetings with educational and research institutions that have established connections with Germany. These included Colegio de Mexico (COLMEX), the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies (Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados – CINVESTAV) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The discussions held at these institutions facilitated the coordination of joint activities and the exploration of potential for future initiatives.

'Zwischen Räumen – Entre Espacios' ('Between Spaces') – an example of the success of German-Mexican cooperation

The establishment of the International Research Training Group 'Zwischen Räumen – Entre Espacios' ('Between Spaces') was an important milestone for the DFG: it was the first coordinated project funded together with a partner organisation in Latin America. The results can now be evaluated following the conclusion of the final funding period last year. Since the start of the project in 2009, a total of 122 Mexican and German doctoral researchers were trained, and the individual projects have resulted in 198 publications.

The project based at the Institute for Latin American Studies of the Free University of Berlin (FU Berlin) and COLMEX has also helped to establish an extensive international network of scholars in the humanities and social sciences, in which researchers from other institutions such as the University of Potsdam, Humboldt University of Berlin and UNAM in Mexico are also involved.

"This project was only made possible by the close collaboration of researchers from all over the world who work at Mexican and German institutions. The principle of equal cooperation over a relatively long period has turned out to be very effective," said Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke, researcher at FU Berlin and project coordinator on the German side.

The international composition of participants is ideal for addressing the topic of globalisation spaces from the perspective of Latin America. The globalisation process prompted both the humanities and social sciences to research movements that shape and change networking spaces and spatial structures. Over the centuries, different movements and actors have continuously created new action and interaction spaces as well as transnational and transregional connections in Latin America, on the entire American continent and beyond. The research programme focussed on these movements, actors and representations.

"First, we analysed this phenomenon from a Latin American perspective. In the next stage, we studied these dynamics with due regard to their historical roots stemming from the beginning of European colonialism in the 15th century. We asked ourselves the following questions: Who were the people actively involved in globalisation processes, who and what exceeded the limits and how are these processes illustrated in different media?" explained Prof. Dr. Carlos Alba Vega, Professor at COLMEX and Mexican project coordinator.

The International Research Training Group aimed at gaining a broader understanding of the globalisation process and its relevance for Latin America. The significance of globalisation over five centuries with regard to gender, different social strata and ethnic groups was researched.

20 renowned researchers from the fields of history, anthropology, politics, literature, economics and culture, who developed a suitable training and supervision programme for doctoral researchers from Germany and Mexico, were involved in addressing these topics. Part of the research work was carried out during a six- to twelve-month stay at the partner institution abroad, with support provided by both sides.

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