About the Merian initiative

The Merian initiative is a special initiative by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research which was launched in 2015. Its overarching aim is to support research in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Global South by establishing and maintaining International Centres (or: Institutes) for Advanced Studies for a period of up to 12 years.

Aims of the Merian Centres

•  Internationalisation of Humanities, Cultural and Social Sciences
•  Understanding societal developments and global environmental changes from diverse perspectives
•  Providing a counterbalance to the current asymmetric distribution of knowledge and supporting local knowledge production
•  Laying the foundation for long-term cooperations of top local and global researchers


•  Foundation of thematically focussed Centres for Advanced Studies in Asia, Latin America, and Africa
•  Organisational support from German consortia of universities and research institutes
•  Fellowship programmes and promotion of local early career researchers
•  Dissemination of knowledge and public outreach through workshops and publications

Funding phases

•  Preliminary phase (2-3 years)
• Preparation and planning
• Establishment of the Centre
•  Main phase (6 years)
• Thematically focused research
• Local, German and international fellows
•  Conclusion phase (3-4 years)

Current Merian Centres

•  Delhi, India – Metamorphoses of the Political (established in July 2015)
•  Guadalajara, Mexico – Coping with Crises (established in March 2017)
•  Sao Paulo, Brazil – Conviviality in Unequal Societies (established in April 2017)
•  Accra, Ghana – Sustainable Governance (established in March 2018)

Maria Sibylla Merian


Maria Sibylla Merian (2 April 1647 – 13 January 1717) was a German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator. Merian was one of the first naturalists to observe insects directly. Because of her careful observations and documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly, she is considered to be among the most significant contributors to the field of entomology.
From left to right:
2010-10-15-publicdomainmark.jpg Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (1705), Source: "Das kleine Buch der Tropenwunder", Insel Verlag Leipzig Wiesbaden 1954.
2010-10-15-publicdomainmark.jpg Portrait of Maria Sibylla Merian by Georg Gsell, Source: "Erucarum ortus, alimentum et paradoxa metamorphosis", Johannes Oosterwijk, Amsterdam (1718).
2010-10-15-publicdomainmark.jpg Insectes Surinam (1705), drawing of Anna Maria Sibylla Merian published in ''Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium'' (1705).