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From Liberation Theology to (Liberationist) Peace Studies

Practice, Reflection and the Generation of Scholarship

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords liberation theology, theory, practice, peace studies, religion
Authors Leo Guardado
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article illustrates liberation theology’s evolution and method and argues that its approach to bridging the gap between theory and practice serves as a complement and challenge for conceptualizing the dynamic and fluid relationship between scholarship and practice in peace studies. The 1971 publication of A Theology of Liberation made Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez one of the most influential scholars and theologians of the 20th century, but the process that led to this publication rests upon the day-to-day reflective practice of its author. Gutiérrez’ commitment to pastoral practice, especially among poor communities, raises questions about whose and what kind of knowledge is privileged in the academy, about the possibility of sustainably sourcing wisdom from local communities and about the necessity of scholars to locate themselves within the realities and among the communities they study. Given the affinity between liberation theology’s inductive method and the elicitive approach in some currents of peace studies, the article places its emphasis on the convergent contributions of Gustavo Gutiérrez and John Paul Lederach and draws information from personal conversations with both authors. As a whole, the article contributes to the bourgeoning and necessary dialogue between peace studies and theology.


Leo Guardado
Leo Guardado is a PhD student in the joint programme in Theology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include liberation theology, human displacement and the role of church communities for building justice and peace.
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