Up to eight research fellowships "Studying Wealth and the Elites in Latin America"

Jochen Kemner's picture
February 14, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Economic History / Studies, Humanities, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Sociology, Social History / Studies

Compared to other world regions, Latin America is characterized by high levels of social inequality. Although past governments have tried to address this condition through different social policies, the highly unequal distribution of income and wealth has remained persistent. Some economic sectors such as finance, telecommunications, commerce and agro-industry are highly concentrated and dominated by a handful of corporations (grupos economicos). Similarly, and in the light of expanding agricultural frontiers, the ownership of land shows an increasingly unequal distribution. Lately, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing inequalities in Latin America and has demonstrated how unevenly different social strata are affected by the crisis.

While academic efforts in recent years have increasingly focused on the consequences of this constellation for the marginalized and the poor, the constitution and concentration of wealth in the hands of small economic elites remain largely unexplored. To cope with this lacuna, the Center for Advanced Latin American Studies (CALAS) aims to comprehensively examine wealth and economic elites in Latin America. Therefore, we invite researchers to contribute to this project with new ideas, fresh perspectives as well as extraordinary, experimental and innovative approaches. Thus, the line of research "Studying Wealth and the Elites", seeks to expand current knowledge and points towards new methodological and theoretical impulses that enrich, expand and transcend existing studies.

CALAS pursues the objective of mapping wealth in Latin America through empirically saturated and theoretically sophisticated research projects. The goal is to investigate the interconnection between wealth, the forms of its reproduction, as well as related actors and their strategies. To this end, the research axis "Studying Wealth and the Elites" focuses on two clear-cut dimensions:

1. Measuring and qualifying wealth in Latin America

The CALAS-laboratory of knowledge aims to establish new theoretical and, above all, methodological approaches that contribute to the empirical study of the distribution of wealth in the region. In addition to historical perspectives on the development of wealth, this includes not only the statistical measurement of income, wealth, taxes, land and business ownership, but also the varied constellation of economic elites in different countries. CALAS is interested in tracing and making visible the complex network of relationships between different actors, sectors and companies, and in understanding their integration into Latin American societies.

2. Reproduction and representation of wealth

This dimension focuses on the dynamics, processes and mechanisms that help explain the reproduction of both wealth and economic elites. Firstly, this applies to political, social, and economic structures that engender the concentration of wealth in the hands of an economic elite. However, also relevant are the political, social, economic, cultural and discursive strategies of the elites themselves, with which they secure and perpetuate their wealth. Therefore, in addition to classical political-economic analyses, this dimension of research focuses explicitly on habitual and cultural factors.


CALAS promotes the exchange between different knowledges at a horizontal level and invites applications from researchers, intellectuals and social actors that take up these two dimensions. The call is open to experts in the fields of social sciences and humanities. Research projects can address a wide range of topics, either through case studies and/or within comparative designs. We invite to explore new methodological and theoretical paths and encourage to present experimental and original research designs. Fellows must carry out research at the CALAS headquarters located at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico between September and December 2021. During this period, they may make short stays outside of Guadalajara e.g. to collect data relevant to the research project. Fellows have access to CALAS' various publication formats and actively participate in the research network. They also have the opportunity to publish the results of their research in an edited volume linked to the laboratory of knowledge "Confronting Inequalities in Latin America: Perspectives on Wealth and Power".

The call is open until February 14, 2021. Further information on requirements, offerings and the application process can be consulted here (English) and here (Spanish).

Contact Info: 
CALAS - Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies

Scientific Management: Dr. Jochen Kemner

Headquarters: Universidad de Guadalajara, Centro Universitario de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades

Campus Belenes; Prol. Avd. José Parres Arias 150, C.P. 45140; Zapopan, Jal., México

Tlf: ++52 (33) 3819-3300, ext. 23594
Contact Email: