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Thematic focus

Research at the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI) draws on a long tradition of social science in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The institute places a strong emphasis on comparative analyses (within/across countries and across time) and pays close attention to area-specific contexts (political, economic, societal, historical).  This holds true for much of ABI’s past and ongoing research: whether its focus lies on security agencies in the peripheries of the Central African Republic, social movements against neo-extractivism in Ecuador, elite politics and public reform in Indonesia, inter-group relations in South Africa, Lebanon und Burundi, or the viability of democracy-promotion in Jordan. The institute aims at combining micro and macro perspectives; it acknowledges the entanglements between local, national and international spheres.

Consistent with this understanding of comparative area studies, the ABI aims at contributing to ongoing scholarly and policy debates in three thematic clusters:


Methodology & Empirical Work

Researchers at the institute reflect on the analytical limitations and problematic origins of traditional area studies and instead opt for a thorough comparative area studies approach.  Interdisciplinarity is reinforced by ABI’s research tradition, which drawn on select insights from political science, sociology, history, economics, and public policy. Efforts of cutting across disciplinary confines are accompanied by a strong interest in explanatory frameworks that go beyond (and often qualify) Eurocentric theories and paradigms.

Methodological pluralism and interdisciplinarity are two key features of the institute’s scholarly work.  All thematic clusters attempt to weave together different methodological perspectives in their efforts to understand social and political change in the Global South.

The reasons for doing so are twofold. First, a conscious triangulation of different qualitative insights, but also survey data and descriptive statistics helps to strike a balance between contextual depth and analytical rigor. Second, the limited data availability in many parts of the Global South (including the scarcity of reliable statistics and media reports) calls for a combination of analytical perspectives that reduces single-source biases.


ALMA Research Series – Freiburg’s interdisciplinary colloquium on social transformations in Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Africa.

In 2016, the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI) has launched the ALMA research series in cooperation with Freiburg University. The research series aims at interconnecting research interests from different parts of the university and affiliated institutes. ALMA places particular emphasis on interdisciplinarity: a feature that is also evident in the discussion format, which includes presenters and discussants from different disciplinary backgrounds. The overall focus lies on empirical-comparative analyses of socio-political phenomena in extra-European areas and societies. The main target group of the ALMA series includes social sciences and humanities scholars that are currently pursuing a PhD and/or pursuing advanced/postdoctoral research projects.

The event series is currently on pause. A resumption in a different format is planned. 


Academic networking

The staff of the ABI are active in various academic networks, including in CrossArea e.V., AK Migrationspolitik in der Deutschen Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft (DVPW) und African Migration, Mobilities and Displacement (AMMODI). For a complete overview of memberships, please refer to the individual researchers themselves.

DFG Guidelines: Good Research Practice

The ABI has signed and adopts the DFG Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice and for Dealing with suspected cases of scientific misconduct. The elected ombudspersons for compliance with the DFG Code at the ABI are Prof Dr Alexander Stroh (University of Bayreuth) and Prof Dr Beate Rosenzweig (Studienhaus Wiesneck).  

The full document is available as PDF (German): Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice

Furthermore, the ABI takes into account ethical guidelines developed in-house for the employees' field research.