The partnership between revolutionary Cuba and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) offered a route for migration that had not been possible before. While academic exchange was aimed to construct a socialist society in Cuba and serving the economic and political interests of both states, the creation of a transnational academic elite and of intellectual collectives across borders occurred as a by-product of the exchange. The research interest of my PhD-project was to show how these 'by-products' came into existence, despite political, financial and organizational limitations of academic exchange. The objectives of the political system and its particular migration regime in contrast to the individual intentions of the (temporary) migrants is a key issue for researching how academic exchange functions. I have looked at scientific, academic or scholarly exchange and cooperation between Latin America and Germany (19th – 21st centuries) from multiple perspectives, and found that they are influenced by varying migration policies and external factors: amongst others a rise in the German public's interest in the region; the student movement, combined with the desire to create academia anew in Germany; a growth in higher education, and an intellectual renewal in Latin America; and the unfortunate appearance of military regimes that led to a wave of intellectuals seeking refuge elsewhere. Although my study was not focused merely on Cuba, I find the case of Cuban – East German scholarly cooperation especially revealing, because academic migration between these two states had not been possible prior to the 1960s, and it lasted only three decades, before the political world stage changed drastically in 1989. It was built on government agreements.
The revolutionary Cuban government initiated an expansion and reform of public education, including, among other means, a campaign against illiteracy. In 1962, the reform process also addressed the system of higher education, based upon an extensive academic exchange. Universities were to serve the economic and social development of the country, and were supposed to provide the education of the workforce that was needed in agricultural and industrial sectors, in administrative or social institutions. This higher education policy was seemingly successful for Cuba: by 1983, most Cuban academic personnel could be educated in Cuba itself, taught by professors who had been qualified in other countries, primarily in the Soviet Union but also in East Germany.
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ministry of Higher Education in East Berlin gradually centralized university politics. A major challenge for the organization of scientific exchange was the lack of capacity in the host universities, including accommodation, supervision, and tutoring of the foreign students. These had to pass classes in German language and preparatory courses for their subjects of study, before they could go on to university. The exception, of course, were doctoral students, who in many cases already spoke German, and their German colleagues were fluent in Spanish, as the language training in the GDR was thorough and of high standard. The main center for German language training was the 'Herder Institute' in Leipzig, founded in 1956. Additionally, there were obligatory language classes in Havana, preparing students for their terms abroad, and in connection to it a quantitatively small exchange of teachers from East Germany to Cuba.
The higher education administration monitored the students, their progress and behavior, but also representatives of the Cuban 'Ministerio de Educación Superior' (MES) frequently traveled around the GDR and met the Cuban student groups to supervise the progress of the individual study programs. Insufficient achievements of individual students led to their being sent home. The whole exchange was organized to guarantee an optimum of efficiency, and that meant keeping all distractions at bay. Furthermore, it was expected that the students would return to their country and help building a socialist Cuba.
The individual experience of the Cuban students within the framework of the migration regime determined the further development of bilateral international cooperation: The personal relations built between German and Cuban researchers and scholars maintained the academic exchange after 1989: for example the institutionalized cooperation between the universities of Magdeburg and Santa Clara could celebrate a 25th jubilee in 2006, although it had paused for a few years between 1990 and 1996. One important incentive for it to begin with had been that various Cuban PhD-students had studied in Magdeburg in the 1970s. They were the ones to carry on the cooperation on the Cuban side. New government agreements, tourism, university partnerships, and options for funding facilitated Cuban academic migration to Germany after 1990, although the numbers did not increase considerably, due to a halt in political relations. The financial and material aspect had been a problem in many cases for cooperation between the GDR and Cuba. Study conditions and financial support play a vital role in the migrating academics' experience abroad. However, the social factor cannot be neglected: Cuban doctoral students in East Germany generally had above-average living conditions and were associated with research groups, so they did have more contact with Germans than regular students. Latin Americans were regarded as particularly socially active, and they were popular among the Germans, not least the Cubans, because of the general interest in the revolution and its actors.
Cuban academic migrants had a political and economic mission, as well as an academic one, and even a small number of scholars could establish important connections between groups of decision-makers. The rigid migration regimes of Cuba and the GDR did not prevent the evolution of an intellectual elite with international connections. However, the question of which ideas or concepts did actually reach the decision-making level of the political system was not down to individual decisions. This is not that different from other political systems, since – from a systemic point of view – assimilation takes place not in the nation-state but 'in organizations of the important functional sectors of modern society'. Those sectors refer to enterprises, administrations, or universities. 'Every migration is related to processes of assimilation'. For example as in the Cuban case academic migrants have to adapt to the expectations of the new university or scholarly system in order to be granted entry.
In conclusion, academic migrants' search for research fields and funding, as well as an existing connection to an institution, prompts academic and scholarly exchange. The strict regime of the Socialist Bloc obstructed transnational scholarly discourses other than those specifically intended, but it also provided a way and an open door for South-to-North migration by creating personal networks. These play an even greater role for today's academic migration, which is not directly obstructed by political means to such an extent. But, especially from the Global South to the Atlantic North, it still depends on the financial and hegemonic structure of the academic centers: The constitution of transnational space is a consequence of global inequality, not its solution.
 Holtz, M. (2012) Wissenschaftsaustausch als hierarchisierter Transfer – Lateinamerikanische Promotionen in Deutschland. Nomos: Baden-Baden.
 Cf. Fernandez de Alaiza, M., Azola, I. and Eiros, L. (1990) 'Die Entwicklung des Wissenschaftspotentials der Republik Kuba' in W. Meske (ed.) Wissenschaft der RGW-Länder – Länderberichte zur Situation am Ende der 80er Jahre aus der DDR, Polen, der Tschechoslowakei, Ungarn, Bulgarien, der Sowjetunion, der Mongolischen VR, Vietnam und Kuba. Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR: Berlin (Ost), 239-276; pp. 240-245 & 260.
 A brochure was produced for the jubilee: Glistau, E. (ed.) (2006) 25 Jahre Zusammenarbeit Universidad Central Marta Abreu de las Villas, Cuba mit der Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Deutschland. Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg.
 Holtz, 2012: 151-156; interview with Castañedo, Professor of Chemical Sciences, 2009, Cuba.
 Bommes, M. (2003) 'Der Mythos des transnationalen Raumes. Oder: Worin besteht die Herausforderung des Transnationalismus für die Migrationsforschung?' in U. Hunger and D. Thränhardt (eds.) Migration im Spannungsfeld von Globalisierung und Nationalstaat. Westdeutscher Verlag: Wiesbaden, 90-116. Pp. 95 & 94.
 Cf. Glick Schiller, N. (2009) A Global Perspective on Transnational Migration: Theorizing Migration Without Methodological Nationalism. Working Paper No. 67. Centre on Migration, Policy and Society: Oxford.