Liberation Psychology in Southern Italy


Memorial to judges murdered by the Camorra located at one of the community projects described in the article.

This article by Alfredo Natale, Catarina Arcidiacono and Salvatore Di Martino, recently appeared (in English) in the Colombian journal Universitas Psychologica.  It is a very intersting application of liberation psychology (and related) concepts and ideas in the challenging context of a Camorra (Neapolitan crime syndicate) – dominated area of Southern Italy.  People who went to the European Community Psychology Congress last autumn had the opportunity to visit the town in question, including a restaurant established using monies confiscated from the Camorra (under Italian law).

The article describes working experiences in relation to empowering activi-
ties, which have been carried out in a local community in the province of
Caserta (in Southern Italy), a place characterized by the widespread pres-
ence of organized criminal groups. In this study, workplace is intended as a
community network aimed at the promotion of coscientization, liberation,
and well-being. Specifically, this paper features initiatives and projects
aimed at establishing new community values through a re-construction of
a work-based social system standing against criminal clans, which tend to
dominate not only economical transactions but also civil life.
Key words: authors Network, social economy, conscientization, collective well-being.
Key words plus: Gomorrah, Criminal Power, De-Growth.

The authors also make the connection between de-growth and conscientisation. De-growth as they note “obliges us to question the concepts of social justice, freedom, health, welfare” and this also happens through the processes of conscientisation and re-signification within the project.  Here then is an example of a community-liberation psychology praxis that prefigures a different model of society where people share and live in peace, rather than the model of endless growth that is underpinned by, and generative of violence of exploitation and the meaningless materialism of consumerism.  As we ate at the restaurant I told some of the other congress participants about our Manchester work on a local Steady State Economy.  At the time the interest and receptiveness people showed in this economic and political work surprised me.  But maybe it shouldn’t and there is a greater connection between these ideas and practices than I had thought.  and maybe it was the inspirational project that we were enabled to vicariously experience that was subliminally making the connections for us all.

What do you think?

Natale, A., Arcidiacono, C., & Di Martino, S. (2013). From “Gomorrah domain” to “Don Peppe Diana lands”. A Southern Italian experience of work-based liberation, community networking, and well-being. Universitas Psychologica, 12(4), 1037–1047. doi:10.11144/6203
Mark Burton

One thought on “Liberation Psychology in Southern Italy

  1. I think it is an interesting article and I can see links with Sandra Jovchelovitch’s writings in relation to context, I am increasingly seeing context as crucial to the process of community and liberation psychology and the need for a space free from the influence of the various forces of oppression which exist here in order to create a space in which people can come together to take actions to liberate themselves. I think the reference to “Bridger and Luloff (1999)
    (Increasing local economic diversity, self-reliance,
    reduction in energy use, protection and enhancement
    of biological and environmental diversity,
    social justice), and on the six forms of “community
    capital” described by Mark Roseland (2005)
    (Natural, Phsysical, Economic, Human, Social,
    and Cultural capital)”
    are the two references that most capture my interest!

    As someone who has been involved with community organisation for a number of years, the thing that has hindered us the most in our endeavours has not been lack of funding but lack of space / place. There are a small group of us who are hoping to rectify this and to build a co-operative in order to work together to create a space where we can bring people together to sustain themselves and each other!

    Also if you replaced all the references in their article with the UKBA (as was) the Home Office (as is) and the current and to some extent past Government in relation to issues of asylum, refuge and immigration then there is criminality and a distinct lack of social justice here in the UK for people seeking sanctuary.
    Things I would include in the misappropriation of funds by the Government include those spent on fracking, landowners subsidies, building nuclear power stations, destruction and privatisation of the NHS by those with interests in private companies, etc. etc. all of which work against the people at the very bottom of the hierarchy and increase the control, power and profit of those for whom the free market economy is their mafia!

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