Latin American Studies in the Two German States after the Second World War

Meissner, Jochen

The development, impact and possible standardization of structural particularities in the scientific development of a country can only be examined in comparative studies. This project focuses on the comparison of the humanities in the two German post-war societies, and a subsequent comparison with East and East-Central Europe. The complex of humanities is explored by examining the approaches to developments outside Europe. By looking at the conceptions of non-European developments, the project aims to examine three points: Firstly, intra-scientific changes (disciplinary differentiations, constellations of disciplines, institutionalization processes, claimed and attributed interpretational competence); secondly, paradigmatizations of different concepts of history, culture and society within the humanities (master narratives, explanatory models, theoretical approaches); and thirdly, self-descriptions mirrored in “the other” that go far beyond the world of academia. The project links studies on the social and institutional aspects of science with studies on cognitive and theoretical-methodological aspects. Due to the fact that Area Studies reached institutional stability and academic success only in a few places, special attention is given to the role of local traditions and eminent personalities. Contrary to the current trend in the history of science and ideas, an alienating perspective is deliberately chosen here. The analysis of concepts of “Außereuropa” not only allows conclusions on how seemingly exotic subjects are dealt with, but also reveals the specific patterns of the respective scientific cultures and the role of transnational communication. This project matches the currently incipient historicization of the 20th century and is chronologically subdivided into three periods. The first period starts with the year 1945 as a turning point, and further examining continuities and discontinuities until the end of the 1960s. In the next step, is a focus on the divided scientific landscape of Europe and the first period of decolonization until the year 1989. The project concludes with the examination of the changes since 1990. The project (with the research associate Jochen Meissner) was funded from 2006 to 2010 by the DFG within the framework of its Priority Programme “History of Science”. It was supervised by Matthias Middell and Andreas Eckert (professor of African Studies at Humboldt University of Berlin).