Merike Blofield


I am Director of the Institute for Latin American Studies at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), and Professor of Political Science at the University of Hamburg. The GIGA is Germany’s largest area studies research center, and at the ILAS we have a vibrant community of international social scientists pursuing diverse research projects on Latin America. Before coming to Hamburg in 2020, I was Professor of Political Science and Director of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Miami, where I received the May Brunson Award in 2019 for doing the most to improve the status of women at the university. 

The enduring question my research addresses is: when and how do governments produce more equity-enhancing policies? With a focus on Latin America, I have analyzed policy areas that intersect social, health, family, gender and labor policy. My current collaborative research projects include: explaining variation in cash transfer policies (forthcoming in the Cambridge Elements series); design and analysis of representative surveys of attitudes toward cash transfers in seven Latin American countries (funded by the German Research Foundation DFG); analysis of policy efforts and outputs on domestic and sexual violence policies (as part of the Lancet Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People, with partial funding from the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ); and a project on detection, diagnosis and treatment of syphilis at the Colombia-Venezuela border (funded by the German Society for International Cooperation GIZ).  

At the ILAS/GIGA, we are particularly committed to producing impactful, policy-relevant research, and have fluid channels of communication to share our evidence-based insights with policy-makers along with the scholarly community. If you are interested in learning about the GIGA doctoral program, click here. If you are interested in any open research positions at the GIGA, click here. If you are interested in visiting the ILAS as a researcher, contact me directly. As Professor I also teach graduate and undergraduate courses in political science at the University of Hamburg.

New research 

Our Lancet Global Health Viewpoint on linkages between cash transfers and intimate partner violence programming in Latin America is out, timed for the International Day to End Violence Against Women, November 25, 2021. 

Check out our October 2021 CEQ working paper on COVID-19 and cash transfer breadth and sufficiency in Latin America. Check out our October 2021 GIGA Focus Policy Brief where Asma Khalifa, Nancy Madera and Johanna Pieper and I assess government policy efforts on domestic violence in Latin America,the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. These results serve as an input for the Lancet Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People, and with support from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.See also the GIGA Forum The Shadow Pandemic: Policy Efforts Addressing Gender-based Violence During COVID-19.

New policy briefs, blogs and commentaries 

Here is our October 2022 commentary on the Bolsonaro government's record on gender-based violence policies, in the Latin America Advisor, published by the Inter-American Dialogue.

See our G-7/T-7 final policy brief, published May 2022, Toward a Global Universal Basic Income for Children  

Here is my November 2021 EU-LAC blog calling for a new social contract for children in Latin America, en espanhol aqui 

Here is my November 2021 zoom commentary (at min.44) on the UNDP State of Human Development 2021 Report on Latin America and the Caribbean, presented by Director Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva 

Here is my November 2021 written commentary on gender-based violence policies in the Latin America Advisor, published by the Inter-American Dialogue

Here is a link to an August 2021 interview I did on the Corona crisis in Latin America, with Deutsche Welle. 

Personal profile 

I was born and raised in Finland, and earned my undergraduate and Masters’ degrees at York University in Canada. I completed my Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill, and have spent many years in South America. I have had the fortune to live in many cities across the Americas, and my daughters were born in São Paulo, Brazil. I now live in Hamburg, Germany.