Extractivism, social inequalities and transregional interdependencies

Compared to other world regions, Latin America has some salient features that put the relationship between extractivism, social inequalities, and transregional at the center of societies’ attention. On the one hand, Latin America is one of the world regions with the highest biodiversity. At the same time its historically developed role in the world market is to be a supplier of raw materials and agricultural products. Regardless of political orientation, economic strategies based on extractivism occupy a central role. They provide financial means for public policies of many Latin American countries; e.g. for the reduction of poverty. Latin America is one of the world regions with the highest levels of inequality. These inequalities are multidimensional. They do not only refer to class differences, that means differences in income, but also regarding other factors such as gender, ethnicity, age. And inequalities have a spatial and temporal dimension. The unprecedented expansion of extractivism is accompanied by a high degree of social conflicts. Nature in a broader sense has become a platform for many indigenous groups to fight for recognition, participation and compensation. Disputes on the valorization of nature and scenarios of future are central. In the seminar we will address these interconnections between extractivism, social inequalities and transregional interdependencies. We will also discuss the impacts of the pandemic, the climate crisis and the energy crises.

Moderación y personalización algorítmica en redes sociales y plataformas digitales

The purpose of the seminar is to introduce an initial framework that leads to an understanding of the challenges posed by the dynamics of information mediated by algorithms, especially in relation to the right to communication, freedom of expression and access to information. While the opportunities that Artificial Intelligence systems behind digital platforms present for the information and communication ecosystem are enormous, they also have the potential to feed and reinforce cognitive biases, to amplify extreme positions, thus fuelling the circulation of disinformation, conspiracy theories and harmful content.   

The COVID-19 pandemic as critical juncture for climate and environmental policies?

Departing from the societal debate on reduced emissions during the first global lock-downs and the comparison of the COVID-19 crisis with the climate crisis, the course covers current trends in climate and environmental policies, their political negotiation in often polarized setting, as well as their implications in socially unequal societies. The objective of the course is twofold: first, the course seeks to provide students with empirical knowledge by presenting recent data on environmental and climate policies in Latin American and European countries and illustrating it with examples from own research; second, it aims at discussing the concept of critical juncture regarding environmental and climate policies. The course builds on inputs and groups works and integrates student knowledge via different didactical methods (e.g. academic karaoke).  

How to deal with hate speech and fake news? Virulent communication phenomena online and factors of individual intervention 

This course is structured in four parts. It first introduces to virulent communication phenomena that endanger our today’s societies and discourses, foremostly, hate speech, and fake news online. The second part consists in an interaction where we jointly collect, systematize, and discuss respective individual experiences. The third and main part of the course discusses theoretical advancements in how citizens respond to virulent communication phenomena from a communication perspective. Therefore, communication action repertoires are conceptualized as online civic intervention, mainly consisting in counter speech, flagging, or verifying content. The course ends with discussing some factors and conditions that may promote online civic intervention of individuals in Europe and Latin America.  

Language policies and identities

This workshop discusses the keys to the discourses on inequality and identities in the main migratory contexts of Latin America. This will be done on the basis of the analysis of public discourses, mass media discourses and social network discourses carried out before the COVID-19 pandemic and during the different stages experienced in the last two years. The objective is to determine whether the pandemic has polarized discourses about inequality and identities in Latin America.   

Apocalyptic ruptures, the new realism(s) in philosophy, and postapocalyptic fiction as an imaginary of a better world

In her recent study New Ecological Realisms: Post-apocalyptic Fiction and Contemporary Theory (2021), Monika Kaup makes a case for reading contemporary postapocalyptic fiction as a supplement to the “new realisms” in philosophy (Bruno Latour, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, Markus Gabriel, Alphonso Lingis and Jean-Luc Marion). The new realism claims to debunk the delegitimization of the ontological reality of the world by poststructuralism and postmodernism’s radical constructivism and their emphasis on the impossibility of an unmediated access of the subject to an empirical reality. These new realisms propose the reality of a “systems vision of the real” (52), “ecological” networks, or “fields of sense” (Gabriel) rather than of isolated things or phenomena. In these ontologies, agency is not limited to humans who shape “nature”, but also pertains to non-human actants (plants, animals, technology, Latour’s “factishes”). Kaup argues that “apocalyptic thinking” as “a crisis narrative about the end of an entire world” (5) is essentially ontological, and that contemporary postapocalyptic fiction is “about crawling out of the rubble and remaking world and society from within the wasteland of ruins” (52), a remaking of an un-modern world that has freed itself from foundational modernist binaries of passive nature vs. free humans, and mind vs. body, replacing them with “nature-cultural collectives into which humans have transformed the planet” (47).  

(Im) Mobilities across the Americas in a (Post)Pandemic Context 

From an interdisciplinary and transnational approach and drawing upon contributions from the geographies of mobilities, critical migration and border studies, this course examines the impact of COVID-19 on migrant (im)mobilities across the Americas. It briefly reviews the historical and contemporary processes and dynamics of migration across the Americas and examines how the pandemic has reshaped and transformed them. By analyzing themes including immigration and border control, the right to asylum, detention and deportation, return migration, children migration, migratory caravans, migrants smuggling, among others, it focuses on how the pandemic has triggered a regional intensification of border control disproportionately affecting regional and extra-continental undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, confining them to everyday hyper-precarization and dispossession of their most elementary human rights. By studying concrete cases, the course will also examine how during a (post)pandemic context, regional and extra-continental migrant populations have continued to migrate via south-north and south-south routes across the Americas, while developing imperceptible politics to preserve their lives and mobilities. The core materials of the course come from the digital archive of the transnational project (Im)Mobility in the Americas and COVID-19 (https://www.inmovilidadamericas.org) and include migrant and asylum seekers’ testimonies; policy documents; videos; and investigative journalism reports, in addition to canonical and alternative readings from sociology, anthropology, history, demography, political science, socio-legal studies, and Latinx Studies.  

Institutions and regional economic development from a comparative perspective 

The course introduces the scholarly debate about concepts of institutions, processes of institutional change, the role of agency – institutional work – in changing institutions, and the role of institutions in innovation and regional development. Adopting a view of relational economic geography, the course reviews illustrative regional case studies to learn assess the specific institutional contexts of regional economies. Finally, it discusses the institutional policy-making approach as a response to the failure of ‘travelling policies’ and as a way to help unlock development traps of regional economies.  

Quarantine Aesthetics – Reflections on Arts, Visualities and Body Experience in (Post-) Pandemic Latin America

Latin America has suffered immensely from the Covid-19 pandemic. The media coverage of Covid-19 news has been accompanied by un-seen images of healthy, quarantined, sick and dead bodies circulating globally and re-shaping the Latin American imaginary. Therein, globally perceived images of bodies and the global mapping of ‘infected individuals’ oftentimes contrast with local and individual body experiences. Radical social changes – such as psychic isolation and dangerous migration conditions – go thus hand in hand with new conceptions of the corporeal as well as with experiences of distancing and proximity being visualized in the images of bodies. Visually transported information on the special threat situation for indigenous communities in Brazil and other regions also evoke the epistemologies of artistic and graphic images of former infectious diseases in the Southern part of the Americas, especially of smallpox in the process of colonizations when the colonial power matrix was also exercised via the control over infections. The workshop will focus on Latin America to discuss the entanglements of arts, visualities and body experience in order to cope with Covid-19 and the aesthetics created alongside the pandemic and post-pandemic imaginaries.