Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. A poem for Ignacio Martín-Baró

Lambs of God
(for my professor Ignacio Martín-Baró, written by Eugenia Castro)
The silence of the night
was broken in pieces
by the engines of the Cherokees.
The ground was trembling
with horror and grief
at malign and evil steps
The grass tried to stop them!
and impotent flowers screamed
calling help from heaven…
Shut up!!!
Angered boots squashed them
and a scarf of silence
covered the petals on the ground.
A cry of sorrow came from the trees
saying as a chorus:
You do not belong to us,
bloody thief, you robbed
my colors, colors of life.
They did not stop;
blind and deaf by the flag
dumb and brutalized by the march,
drugged by warrior words,
legacy from Malinche and Ladino past.
The door was raped.
without defence let them pass
the nightmare begun:
Time-space, space-reason
reason-time, space-time.
People’s chorus
Question answered ever since,
question answered by Arnulfo
to the wing – from East to West.
Answer known by all.
Answer given by the 7 lambs.
The other chorus:
The master plan was in time.
-American watches are exact-
you know how famous these watches are.
You know time is money,
and money is never enough.
Who are you on my road?!
A repeated story, started again:
The Antithesis against Lambs.
Darkness against light and brightness.
Aliens against kind Masters.
Violence against non-violence.
A repeated story ended again,
again, again, again… and again.
The day was over…
new Martyrs from the Calvary
as splinters in our hearts.
We are with you loved Lambs
God’s people, Lambs of God.
Con una rafaga de tiros ellos silenciaron tus labios Padre Nacho,
mas nosotros siguimos contigo cantando y gritando
“Tu sabes que esto no es justo”
Padre Nacho, with a spray of bullets they silenced your lips
but we continue with you; singing and screaming:
“You know this is not right”. 

Ana Eugenia Castro is a psychologist from EL Salvador, who lives and works in Australia. Her approach is within the social psychology of liberation and integrates different therapies, including existential, systemic, and creative arts-based approaches.

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Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. Some further materials.

1) On our videos page, we have added an audio recording of an interview with Martín-Baró from 1988.  In it he speaks of the circumstances under which he was working, including a wider political analysis of the Salvadorean conflict, the impact of torture and repression, and his survival of terrorist attacks on the University.  Thanks to Brinton Lykes for making this available.

2) Brinton is also the co-founder of the Martín-Baró Fund, which makes funding available to “grassroots groups throughout the world who are challenging institutional repression and confronting the mental health consequences of violence and injustice in their communities.”  Their current newsletter “The Just Word” has several articles (including a rare piece in English byElizabeth Lira from Chile) about Nacho and his impact, you can download it here.

3) Bruce Levine, another network member has also published an article to mark the 25th anniversary of Martín-Baró’s murder.  He reflects on the collusion of the American (sic) Psychological Association with the torture programme in occupied Guantánamo, (depicted in this film) noting that

“Liberation psychology – which Martin-Baró helped popularize – challenges adjustment to an unjust societal status quo and energizes oppressed people to resist injustices.”

You can read Bruce’s piece in “Truth Out” here.

4) Finally, about 12 years ago, when, with some difficulty, I got my copies of the two Cover A and Ivolumes of Martín-Baró’s “Psicología desde Centroamérica”, I translated the prologues and summaries for my own use.  A revised version of my translation of the Prologue to volume 1, “Acción e Ideología” is available on request.  This prologue gives a very clear account of his project to reconstruct social psychology, from the perspective of the peoples of Central America.  Please treat these notes for what they are, an initial translation without any review or other checks.  It is a great shame that more of Nacho’s work has not been translated into other languages to give a wider audience access to the breadth and depth of his work.  The translation is available, HERE, for personal use.

 

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Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. Imagining Ignacio Martín-Baró and Steve Bantu Biko in conversation.

IMAGINING IGNACIO MARTIN-BARO AND STEVE BANTU BIKO IN CONVERSATION ABOUT IMAGINATION – Mohamed Seedat

Ignacio Martín-Baró and Steve Bantu Biko
Ignacio Martín-Baró and Steve Bantu Biko

Today, 16 November marks the 25th anniversary of the killing of Ignacio Martín-Baró, the founder of Liberation Psychology in Latin America, along with 5 other priest-academics and two women workers by the Salvadorean army at their residence on the campus of the Unversidad de Centroamérica, San Salvador.  It is fitting that today we bring you a typically beautifully written piece by Mohamed Seedat, in which he draws parallels between the work of Martín-Baró and Steve Biko, prominent leader in the Black Consciousness movement in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Mohamed himself wrote a landmark piece (1) in which he independently set out the principles of a liberation psychology in the context of his region.  Although I had known of his work for some years, it seems harshly appropriate that I should have met him for the first time last year in occupied Palestine, where all the practices of racist domination, and resistance, are there to witness.  The tools that Nacho and Steve left us are there to use in the many regions, countries, towns, villages and micro-spaces where oppression is the daily reality, and resistance is everyday praxis.  He particularly focusses on the reproduction of the daily practices of exclusion of the ‘other’, by those in positions of relative power in post-colonial societies like South Africa, noting the emotional labour required of the oppressed to do simple things like make use of public services – although I was reminded of the way class oppression operates in many of my own country’s public service systems.

As Mohamed notes,

“For Martín-Baró and Biko social transformation and liberation were about confronting exclusionary social structures and dehumanizing policies as well as internalized oppressive scripts, structured by dominant ideologies and discourses of superiority…..

“I return to imagining Biko and Martín-Baró in deep conversation to help us make sense of the raging anger, the burnings and the crass markers of success entrenched and perpetuated by the ruling and economic elites in post-colonial societies? They ponder: what are our people really burning? What is the psychology of the post-colonial elite that reproduces dominance with the support of the ruling and avaricious classes in Washington, London, Paris, Moscow and Beijing? What should people struggling for freedom in all its forms really burn and what is worth igniting, preserving and growing? “

You can read the full piece HERE

Mohamed Seedat holds several positions at the University of South Africa, Pretoria (details in the article’s footnote).  He and his colleagues will be hosting the 6th International Congress of Community Psychology in 2016.

reference
(1) Seedat, M. (1997). The quest for liberatory psychology. South African Journal of Psychology, 27(4), 261–270. doi:10.1177/008124639702700410

Mark Burton, 16 November, 2014 (file updated with corrections, 19/11/14)

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Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. Martín-Baró on State terrorism in El Salvador (video)

Ignacio Martín-Baró on State terrorism in El Salvador.
A rare video of Martín-Baró speaking in English.  He covers State terrorism in El Salvador in the 1980s and before. He focusses on the role of the disappearances, murders and massacres in the pacification of the population, taking a social psychological perspective that is firmly located in both a humanistic and a socio-political outlook.  He makes the important point that this political terrorism has an impact, not just on the victims, but also on the wider population.  Many thanks to Adrianne Aron (who introduces the talk) for making the video available.  The recording is rather quiet, but very clear: try headphones if it is too quiet on your machine.
Due to technical limitations it appears in three parts.  Also see our videos page.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 (corrected link)

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Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. Nacho’s Legacy in the San Francisco Bay Area

Here is the third in our series to mark the quarter century since Ignacio Martín-Baró’s murder.

In “Nacho’s Legacy in the San Francisco Bay Area” Félix Salvador Kury remembers Martín-Baró’s visit to San Francisco in 1988 and talks about his work in El Salvador in the context of a bitter struggle before going on to tell us about the Clínica Martín-Baró, a free service for Latina and Latino migrants, which as Felix says is a lasting legacy of Nacho’s visit and his relationship with North American solidaritarian colleagues.

“I knew of Ignacio Martín-Baró’s work long before I invited him to a conference on Central American refugees in the spring of 1988. It was his first visit to the San Francisco Bay Area. Having “Nacho” for a week in my house was a very special and transformative experience. Three of my cousins of were among his students of Psychology at UCA. One of them was brutally murdered when she was seven months pregnant.

“Ignacio Martín-Baró was “Nacho” to many of us who knew him, who love him and miss him. At at the time of his assassination, he was the vice rector Central American University “Jose Simeon Cañas” (UCA, in Spanish). The University of Central America played a leading role in the effort to resolve El Salvador’s decades-long civil war. Jesuit faculty members, who often spoke out against human rights abuses, were accused by the government and the military of providing intellectual support for the FMLN rebel uprising.

“Ignacio Martín-Baró, a Spanish-born Salvadoran citizen, at age 50 was best known as an analyst of national and regional affairs and as the founder and director of the Public Opinion Institute, a highly respected polling organization. He was also a writer, teacher, and a pastor. He was killed along with five other Jesuit priests and two women on November 16, 1989. He was killed by a military battalion that had just returned form military training at the School Of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. It was not the first assassination of church leaders: 18 Catholic priests, including Father Rutilio Grande and Archbishop Oscar Romero, and four North American churchwomen, had been killed in El Salvador since the late 1970s – more than any other nation in the world. …. read the rest of the short piece HERE.

Felix is the Program Director & Faculty Advisor for the Clínica Martín-Baró, San Francisco, California, USA. Their website and blog is here (material in Spanish and English.

Here is a gallery of photos illustrating the work that Felix has kindly made available.

7photo 8photo 10 photo 12photo 14photo 16photo 20photo 156263101836 156263121836 156263141836 156263151836 392301586836 Only Justice Heals Wounds Trabajadores voluntarios de la Clinica Martín Baró

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Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. Ignacio Martín Baró’s example and its impact.

pic for Taiwo's piece

The People Need Homes: Focus E15 Mothers struggle for the right to decent affordable housing in London where poor people are being ‘priced out’ by the logic of the housing price bubble market.

Here is the second in our series of pieces to commemorate the murder of Ignacio Martín Baró in November, 1989.  It is by Taiwo Afuape who is a  clinical psychologist and systemic therapist working in mental health services for children and for adults where she lives, in London.  She reflects on what Martín Baró and Liberation Psychology means for her, linking this to contemporary social, political and economic struggles in the UK where despite being a rich country we have extreme and increasing inequality, exploitation and oppression while helping inflict these things on other regions.  Taiwo makes particular reference to her Nigerian heritage and her family, reminding us that the personal is politics, just as the psychological is also political, while the political is both personal and psychological too.

Read Taiwo’s piece HERE

This month also sees the appearance of an article by Wayne Dykstra Liberation psychology – a history for the future.  Wayne, who comes from the United States, but is researching Liberation Psychology’s diffusion in Dublin, particularly focusses on the solidarity extended to Martín Baró and the Salvadorian struggle by a number of North American psychologists, including Adrianne Aron who provided the first piece in libpsy.org’s 25 years on series.  At our request the piece has been made open access.

Also in that issue is a very interesting set of articles on Turkish social psychologist Muzafer Sherif, and his collaborator Carolyn Sherif.  Like Martín Baró, Sherif sought to construct a non-individualistic social psychology, relating human action not to some internal ‘human nature’ but to the social context, itself constructed historically.  The articles, also openly accessible, give some important background information on Sherif and his work, in the context of struggles against fascism and rampant capitalism. See:  Camps, conflict and collectivism;  The unknown Muzafer Sherif and The view from the boys. Retrieving Sherif’s seminal work is very relevant to today’s development of a truly social psychology – one that liberates and is itself liberated.

 

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Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. What does music have to do with it?

Ignacio Martín Baró and Woody Guthrie with guitarsHere is the first contribution to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of Ignacio Martín Baró’s murder on 16 November, 1989.

It is fitting that it comes from Adrianne Aron, who with Shawn Corne, edited  Writings for a Liberation Psychology (1996) the only English language collection of Martín Baró’s writings.  She practices psychology in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA and more recently her Introduction to PEDRO AND THE CAPTAIN (Cadmus, 2009) describes work with torture survivors as approached by liberation psychology. PEDRO is an English translation of Mario Benedetti’s play, PEDRO Y EL CAPITAN, a dramatic dialogue between a torturer and his victim.

In her piece Adrianne reflects on the role of music in Martín Baró’s life and perspective, a reminder of the importance of cultural endeavour in both life and liberation.  I did not have the fortune to meet and know him, but I have heard about his singing from others who did, and at the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” in San Salvador, where he lived and was killed I was interested to see this picture in a colleague’s office, which appears above with one of Woody Guthrie whose songs have been a great influence for Adrianne.

Others have promised pieces to mark this sad event, both to remember and to look ahead, and they will appear here.

Read Adrianne Aron;s piece “What does music have to do with it?” here

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Liberation Psychology: 25 years – time to look back and look forward.

An invitation to mark the 25th anniversary of Ignacio Martín-Baró’s murder

On 16 November, 2014, it will be the 25th anniversary of the murder of 8 people, including Ignacio Martín-Baró at the University of Central America in San Salvador.

It will be an appropriate time to reflect on Liberation Psychology in terms of Martín-Baró’s contribution, the development of the field since then, and the challenges and opportunities ahead.
I would therefore like to invite you to contribute to a collection of short pieces to be published on the English Language Liberation Psychology Network website, at http://libpsy.org

I would particularly encourage the use of diverse formats.  So you might consider pictures, video, audio, anecdotes, short stories, poems, photos as well as the more usual academic text.  And although it is important to commemorate the past – I encourage you to look forward over the tasks and possibilities for Liberation Psychologies in coming decades.

Ignacio Martín-Baró photo with guitar

Ignacio Martín-Baró

Contributions of less than 3000 words should be sent to mark@libpsy.org before the anniversary on 16 November, 2014  – and preferably at some time in the next 6 months as we can publish them as they are available as a lead up to the anniversary.

Mark H Burton

 

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