Journal of Jesuit Studies: Artistic Discourses of Liberation Theology (themed edition)

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University of Salford, Greater Manchester
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The idea of Liberation Theology continues to exert profound challenges - theological, ontological and theoretical - to the Catholic Church, long after the first context of its emergence and reception (the Cold War) and its first attempted censure and routing. At a time of global financial crises and the immiseration of previously comfortable stratas of Western nations, renewed imperial intrigues and grass-root insurrections in the Middle East, and the explosion of zones of the "Global South" in and around the citadels of the North, Liberation Theology holds out the promise of a direct acquaintance with the poor and oppressed of the new millennium. At a time of crisis within the Catholic Church relating to the emergence of histories of sexual abuse, Liberation Theology offers a conceptualisation of the body as the fundamental site of struggle rather than, in the Neo-Victorian reading held by the adversaries of Liberation Theology, a purely secondary concern. And in the time of a Jesuit pope, Liberation Theology points to a contested period of personalities and politics that can now be read as fundamental to the formation of the Church's leader.

Specifically: the forms of politics of the early years of Liberation Theology have given way to expanded and problematised notion of politics - of class struggle "after" revolution, and of the supposed "end of history", of anti-globalisation, of biopolitics, of genetic research, and of the LGBT landscape. Ratzinger wrote: "One needs to be on guard against the politicisation of existence which, misunderstanding the entire meaning of the kingdom of God and the transcendence of the person, begins to sacralize politics and betray the religion of the people in favour of the projects of the revolution." ("Instruction on Certain Aspects of the Theology of Liberation" of August 1984). Can or should politics still remain beyond or outside such processes of sacralisation? Does Ratzinger's critique of this rearrangement of the priorities of the Church's mission at the hands of Boff, Gutierrez et al, as giving rise to a distorted hermeneutics of theology, still represent a sufficient "shutting down" of the theoretical project of Liberation Theology? Do the positions of Bloch (of "Atheism in Christianity"), critiqued by Ratzinger ("Bloch's Marxism with its religious veneer") and re-engaged by Toni Negri (in "The Labor of Job") suggest the potential for a Liberation Theology post-Ratzinger, or a post-Rome Catholicism?

This themed edition will seek to explore these ideas through the optic of artistic expression, particularly in relation to the preferential option for the poor, and particularly in respect to ethical dilemmas that arise from both technological advances and neo-liberal regimes. Proposals are invited that frame these concerns from a Jesuit perspective. In accepting that Liberation Theology remains historical and to some extent heretical, an underground "space" needs to be found to explore the lineaments of Liberation Theology, its antecedents and its possible futures.

Proposals for a themed edition of the Journal of Jesuit Studies should be 3-400 words and emailed, with a biographical note, to Benjamin Halligan ( by 3 June 2013, as a Word document that also contains contact information. Informal inquiries prior very welcome.