skip to content

About the Department of Iberian and Latin American History (IHILA)

The Department of Iberian and Latin American History (IHILA) at the Historical Institute of the University of Cologne is not only the only major independent university institution concerned with the history of Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula in Germany; it is also the place where, in 1961, the first chair for Latin American and Iberian History at a German university was established. Its holder, Richard Konetzke, had been teaching at the University of Cologne since 1954. As an internationally recognized researcher of the history of Spain and Latin America, Richard Konetzke became known as a pioneer of the social history of Hispano America during the colonial era. Following him on the chair in 1967, Günther Kahle’s work focussed on the history of state and nation building processes in the 19th century.

In 1992 Hans-Jürgen Prien was appointed new professor and Head of Department. He stood out for his publications on the history of church and Christianity in Spain and Latin America. In 1993, a second professorship was established to which Michael Zeuske was appointed. His main field of research is the history of politics and social history of Cuba and Venezuela as well as the cultural history of slavery. Further research projects include Alexander von Humboldt and the history of knowledge.

In 2000, Barbara Potthast became Head of Department. For a substantial while now, her work has been centering on the social history of Latin America, especially the history of family and gender relationships.  Her geographical focus is on Central America and the La Plata region.