History of the Centre of Expertise on Latin America
The Latin America Unit claims a long tradition. Originally a component of the Spain Unit, it was established as an independent division in 1971 by Jürgen Samtleben after his return from post-graduate studies at the Universidade de São Paulo.
The development of the Unit was linked to a systematic development of the library holdings on Latin American law, a collection that continues to attract domestic and international scholars to the Institute, including scholars from Latin America. Samtleben dedicated his efforts primarily to a scientific examination of the private international law of Latin America, and he was deeply involved with the historic inception of the Mercosur. A selection of his most important research articles was published in a 2010 anthology.
In 2004, Jan Peter Schmidt succeeded Jürgen Samtleben as the head of the Unit. Schmidt’s efforts focused on the private law tradition of Latin American countries as well as the influence of preceding European models. His 2009 dissertation on civil law codification in Brazil was an in-depth examination of the across-the-board 2002 reform of the Brazil Civil Code; his work represents the first comprehensive German-language study of the topic. From 2011 forward Schmidt authored a number of different studies on succession law, family law and contract law in Latin American countries.
From 2012 to 2014, Tilman Quarch led the Latin America Unit. Focal points of his research included Brazilian patent law and investment protection law; additionally, he participated in the updating (from a comparative law perspective) of the primary work of Brazilian jurist Pontes de Miranda.
After a transitional phase overseen by Anton Geier in 2015/2016, the Latin America Unit has since 2017 been in the hands of Denise Wiedemann.