Beyond Ideology: Dialogue

  • Mary Watkins
  • Helene Shulman
Part of the Critical Theory and Practice in Psychology and the Human Sciences book series (CTPPHS)


In 1989, Ignacio Martín-Baró, a Jesuit and a psychologist, was assassinated along with seven others by the Atlacatl Battalion, a U.S.-trained Salvadoran death squad, at the University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador, where he headed the psychology department and was the academic vice-rector. Martín-Baró was a Spanish priest, educated at the University of Chicago, who aligned himself with the poor in Latin America in the years after the Medellín Conference. It was at this meeting in 1968 that the Latin American Bishops articulated the outlines of a liberation theology and its commitment to serve the poor. As a priest of the small pueblo of Jayaque, west of San Salvador, Martín-Baró could observe the psychological suffering, terror, and hunger of those brutally oppressed by the elite who ruled El Salvador. During his years in Latin America, a powerful popular movement had developed, mobilizing thousands of people to imagine alternatives to their present conditions. Through participatory processes and stunning courage and tenacity, they organized community groups to resist terror and silencing. Martín-Baró used his position as a leading academic to form a National Institute of Public Opinion that published research information about current events as seen by anonymous ordinary people, in the cities and countryside, who would have been killed if they had publicly expressed their opinions or shared their experiences.


Historical Memory Liberation Theology Psychological Suffering Participatory Dialogue Utopian Imagination 
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Copyright information

© Mary Watkins and Helene Shulman 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Watkins
  • Helene Shulman

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