The last Länderkundler in the Tropics: German geography on agrarian colonization in Latin America from 1947 to 1975.

The project analyzes how the last generation of regional geographers  (Länderkundler) reformulated classical concepts of German geography to  explain agrarian colonization in Latin America between 1945 and 1970.
In the mid-20th century, German geographers studied agrarian colonization in  the Caribbean lowlands of Central America, the plains of Colombia and  Venezuela, the humid jungles of the Pacific, the inter-Andean valleys, and  the Amazonian plains.  At that time, for economic or ideological reasons,  international scholars and local governments promoted internal colonization  projects, with the idea of „transplanting“ marginalized people from  overpopulated areas to uncultivated lands and turning them into farmers.  Geographers studied these new agricultural colonies, some of which were still inhabited by German or European descendants. In my project, I show how  German geographers reframed classical concepts of colonial and geopolitical
geography to explain agrarian colonization in Latin America. Using the  classical ideas of German geography regarding population, opening-up,  spatial planning, and adaptation, the last Länderkundler pointed out critical points of the  agrarian colonization projects, such as the welfare of the colonists, soil  erosion, the limits of profitability, and the lack of regional planning. In  some cases, these findings were discussed with local officials and  contributed to policies. Thus, the German geography works  on agrarian  colonization in Latin America reveal different views of the Global North on  modernization, developmentalism, and the environment in Latin America during  the Cold War.


Further information and contact details

Carolina Hormaza M.A.
Center for InterAmerican Studies
Universität Bielefeld