The ABI is one of Germany’s major research centers in the domain of comparative area studies. It is an independent, non‐profit research institute associated with the University of Freiburg. The institute was founded in 1960 by Arnold Bergstraesser, at the time professor of political science and sociology at the University of Freiburg. It is housed in its own building with conference rooms as well as office space for visiting researchers. Core funding is provided by the state of Baden‐Württemberg. Additional third party funding is sourced from scientific institutions and development organisations.
The institute‘s research focuses on questions of power transformations, state institutions and societal conflicts in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The current research falls into three clusters:
The institute follows a comparative, interdisciplinary, mixed‐methods approach. Strong emphasis is placed on field research, in‐depth regional expertise and area‐specific contexts.
The ABI library hosts one of the largest area studies and development collections in Germany. Specialised in political, social and cultural transformations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, it contains around 85,000 monographs and subscribes to 150 periodicals and journals. The catalogue of the library's collection is accessible online.