God, Virtue & Politics: Inequality & Social Justice in Latin America

God, Virtue & Politics: Inequality & Social Justice in Latin America

SEMINAR organised by the CLACSO-CROP Programme, in co-operation with NorLARNet, UiB Global and Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen

30 November 2010 | UiB Global, Bergen, Norway

This seminar was one of the activities realized in Scandinavia that followed the suggestion of donor agencies to bring into and socialize with Scandinavian
colleagues the results of the research promoted by the CLACSO CROP Programme. The context of the seminar was the twofold Latin American reality. This continent has a highly religious, mostly Christian – above all Catholic – population. Simultaneously, as observed by the regional UNDP report for Latin America 2010, it “is the most unequal region in the world... Inequality and its societal visible faces are an unquestionable reality for every citizen" (UNDP, 2010, p. 16).

Given that Christianity at large is a religion which – in theory – promotes social justice, equality and solidarity, it seems that there is a firm contradiction between religiosity and reality. This antagonism raises various questions which were treated in the seminar: Has religion, and more precisely, Latin American religiosity, nothing to do with promoting equality and social justice? What do religions and churches think about unequal development and what, if anything, do they do? Is the modern-day 'barbarism' in Latin America a result of religion? How effective are religions in producing an ethos – a lived ethics – among Latin American People? What is the relationship between religious and 'secular' ethics in the political reality of Latin American populism? Is the reproduction of inequality and poverty an unintended result of religious world visions, ethics, and pastoral strategies? Do religions play a role in politics and for policies fighting – or reproducing – inequality and poverty, on an individual, community and national level?

Presentations included: “Pentecostalism as a Basis for Transformation of the Individual, the Family, and Society" by Geir Aasmundsen, CMI/Södertörn University College, Sweden; “Colonial Darkness Revisited: Civilization and Barbarism in Vargas Llosa's New Novel EL SUEÑO DEL CELTA" by Jon Askeland, Department of Foreign Languages, University of Bergen, Norway; “Religion and Politics in Nicaragua: What Difference Does a Revolution Make?" by Einar Berntzen, Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen, Norway; “Religion and Democracy: Facing Inequality in Latin America" by Emilce Cuda, Department of Theology, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Argentina, and “Religions and Poverty in Latin America: Ethics, Ethos, and Practices" by Genaro Zalpa, Department of Sociology, Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico.


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