“In your country,” Ignacio Martín-Baró remarked to a North American colleague, “it’s publish or perish. In ours, it’s publish and perish.” In November 1989 a Salvadoran death squad extinguished his eloquent voice, raised so often and so passionately against oppression in his adopted country. A Spanish-born Jesuit priest trained in psychology at the University of Chicago, Martín-Baró devoted much of his career to making psychology speak to the community as well as to the individual. This collection of his writings, the first in English translation, clarifies Martín-Baró’s importance in Latin American psychology and reveals a major force in the field of social theory.
Gathering essays from an array of professional journals, this volume introduces readers to the questions and concerns that shaped Martín-Baró’s thinking over several decades: the psychological dimensions of political repression, the impact of violence and trauma on child development and mental health, the use of psychology for political ends, religion as a tool of ideology, and defining the “real” and the “normal” under conditions of state-sponsored violence and oppression, among others. Though grounded in the harsh realities of civil conflict in Central America, these essays have broad relevance in a world where political and social turmoil determines the conditions of daily life for so many. In them we encounter Martín-Baró’s humane, impassioned voice, reaffirming the essential connections among mental health, human rights, and the struggle against injustice. His analysis of contemporary social problems, and of the failure of the social sciences to address those problems, permits us to understand not only the substance of his contribution to social thought but also his lifelong commitment to the campesinos of El Salvador.
These essays touch on religion as a tool of ideology, the meaning of work and the way in which reality becomes fragmented in a politically repressed society… Those who worked to bring forth these essays have added a measure of justice to his life.
Martín-Baró’s essays are…characterized by a concreteness and a passion for justice, and they offer tremendous insights into Salvadoran society as well as the struggle for liberation.
Adrianne Aron and Shawn Corne’s excellent introduction contextualizes the volume, both within the Salvadoran peasant communities with whom much of Martín-Baró’s work was developed and within the academic/intellectual communities to whom it is addressed. The chapters are organized around three major themes, which are, arguably, the major dimensions along which Martín-Baró’s work developed: political psychology, war and trauma, and ‘de-ideologizing’ reality. The selections demonstrate his contributions to social psychology as well as his intense involvement in the social reality of his adoptive country, El Salvador… [This is an] excellent volume. It is required reading for psychologists seeking a more critical psychology—one that takes responsibility for its social position and privilege, and challenges the status quo. It is an equally important resource for those who seek ideas and examples for developing ‘indigenous psychology’ from the base of marginalized people’s lives, in coalition with them.
Reveals the workings of a mind that was probing and humane, wide-ranging in interests and passionate in concerns, and dedicated with a rare combination of intelligence and heroism to the challenge his work sets forth to construct a new person in a new society.
- 256 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
- Foreword by Elliot G. Mishler
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