Research Theme 3

Modernization Processes and Conceptualizations of Latin American Identity

The processes of modernization that many parts of Latin America have experienced in recent years change the life conditions and give access to better health care systems. At the same time, more than 10 % of the population in South America, or more that 39 million people, lives under very poor conditions. Consequently, great contradictions between poor life conditions and modern, technologically developed and wealthy life conditions pertain, and they are combined with different and contrasting world views, mythologies and belief systems belonging to different layers of the composite and hybrid cultural identities found in modern Latin America. This research theme will explore the modernization processes from an interdisciplinary perspective which focuses on the historical and contemporary conceptualizations of modernity, rationality, nature and technology.

Latin American modernity has been marked by complex development on the basis of contradictory and often coexistent strong influences. The understanding of this composite historicity and the hybrid character of contemporary cultural identity is also of vital interest for the possibilities and success of virtually all the projects and collaboration between European/Danish and Latin American companies and organizations. It is, for instance, imperative to have insight into the historical and contemporary cultural concepts and the hybrid character of cultural identity in Latin America in order to understand the possible response from local Latin American citizens to social andpolitical reforms (e.g. in health care and the public sector), investments in industrial or agricultural production or the exploitation of natural resources.

This theme gives rise to a number of research questions: How and to what extent do we find traditional Latin American value systems integrated in the actual use of key concepts like health care, nature or history, and cultural heritage? How and to what extent do Latin American knowledge and understanding of the complex relationship between health care, nature and technological advances represent a positive alternative to traditional Western thinking?

See also Project Group 2