Revolutionary Christianity in Argentina: Emergence, Formation and Responses to State Terror (1930-1983)

Bradbury, PM
(2017) Revolutionary Christianity in Argentina: Emergence, Formation and Responses to State Terror (1930-1983). PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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The thesis investigates liberationist Christianity in Argentina, understanding it as a dynamic, diverse and internally conflictive socio-religious movement. As such, the movement transcended political and denominational divides, incorporating some of the minority Protestant sectors in addition to large numbers of Catholics. Three stages in the history of the revolutionary Christian movement in Argentina are analysed: firstly (1930-1966), the emergence of what Michael Löwy refers to as the liberationist Christian movement is assessed, by following changes in Argentinian society, within Catholic and Protestant sectors and within Marxism. This section emphasises that dialogue between Marxism and Christianity tended to revolve around a humanist language that had come to represent a break with previous dominant tendencies in each. As such the thesis challenges perceptions that posit liberation theology as merely the result of internal religious developments, demonstrating how changes in the left also enabled political and intellectual engagement. Secondly (1966-1974), the study investigates how this broad phenomenon mobilised into a social movement, offering new interpretations of how intra-ecclesial and political conflicts helped to shape the structure and ideas of the movement. The research shows that such conflicts were at the heart of the construction of a liberationist Christian identity, which internalised deep tensions over its relationship to the Catholic Church institution. These tensions underpinned the divisions over Peronism and celibacy that fractured the Third World Priests, the central driving force of the movement. Finally (1974-1983), the thesis examines different responses of the liberationist Christian movement to the intense period of political violence and repression, known by scholars and activists as state terrorism. It identifies three broad responses, which were largely shaped by the preceding divisions in the movement and involved different degrees and forms of resistance to state repression and neoliberal economics: de-politicisation and reintegration into Catholic Church institutional structures, which allowed some degree of challenge to the dictatorship (1976-1983); the refusal to abandon revolutionary politics, which almost invariably resulted in disappearance, torture, assassination or exile; and integration into the human rights movement, an option often led by Protestant and ecumenical sectors. In exploring these distinct political options and uncovering this heterogeneity of liberationist Christianity, the thesis provides a corrective to existing scholarship that often depicts the movement as homogenous or as a passive victim of the dictatorship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Personal email address:
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2017 13:23
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2021 07:10
DOI: 10.17638/03009472