María Ignacia Jeldes Olivares
Wissenschaftlerin | Zeitgeschichte und Archiv

In January 2021 María Jeldes started working as a research associate in the Freigeist-Fellowship project „Conquering (with) Concrete: German Construction Companies as Global Players in Local Contexts“ funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. As part of this project, she writes her PhD thesis on international construction projects of German companies with a regional focus on Latin American countries.

Prior to joining the IRS, María Jeldes graduated as a Master of Regional Planning at Cornell University and as a M.Sc. in Governance of Risk and Resources at Universität Heidelberg. Before that, she completed her B.A. in Sociology at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. In her master’s thesis she examined the influence of corporate actors from the mining industry in urban and territorial governance of Chilean cities. Between 2017 and 2020 she worked at the Centro de Políticas Públicas UC on applied research projects and knowledge transfer for public decision-making.



Global construction companies impact our futures. Beyond the edifices and infrastructures they construct, they also fundamentally influence governmental development aid policies, or dislocate people to build a new dam, for example. Yet the role of these major global players and their persistent presence in different world regions has barely been reflected upon. Our project investigates how major German construction companies conquered markets and spaces, thereby cementing their presence in different regions of the Global South, and it will trace the footprints left behind, long after the dust of the construction sites settled. It draws on the observation that it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of the built environment in these regions without acknowledging and analysing the role of construction companies such as HOCHTIEF AG or Bilfinger Berger as actors, stakeholders, transnational legal entities and major driving forces in the processes of globalised construction business. However, in previous bodies of research this perspective has been overlooked, except for rare exemptions. mehr Info


Das Brückenprojekt „Disruption und räumliche Entwicklung: Konzepte zu raum-zeitlichen Dynamiken, Wahrnehmungsweisen und Handlungsstrategien“ setzt die konzeptionelle Ausarbeitung der Disruptionsheuristik fort, nutzt diese zur Interpretation von empirischen Befunden in der Leitprojektforschung (und darüber hinaus) und nimmt umgekehrt Anregungen aus der Empirie der Leitprojekte in die konzeptionelle Weiterentwicklung auf. mehr Info

Ausgewählte Vorträge

The Materiality and Constructability of the Subway in Buenos Aires (1933–1944)

Materiality and the History of Infrastructure

20. Juli | 2022
Herrenhausen Symposium, Hannover, Deutschland

Materialities of the Construction Process: International Contractors and the Subway in Buenos Aires

Material Assemblages

17. Dezember | 2021
Herrenhausen Palace, Hannover, Deutschland