Social Change and Globalization in the Americas (2001) editors
Anna L. Peterson, Manuel A. Vasquez and Philip J. Williams write
a description of what the photographs from my project in El
Salvador might look like: "Christianity wears many faces
in Latin America . . . : Pentecostal preachers in central plazas
and black robed priests in cavernous cathedrals, peasants leading
"celebrations of the world," and teenagers singing
rock-and-roll anthems to Christ." The work asserts that
among this diversity certain themes are evident in Latin America:
" . . . religion is changing but not disappearing . . .
religion has become more central to struggles around collective
and individual identity and to the rearticulation of damaged
civil societies . . . it has also provided additional resources
that help people manage severe crises in personal identity in
family stability, in neighborhood well-being, and in national
civic life . . As these pressures are felt in everyday life,
people often turn to an increasingly diverse religious sphere."
I propose visual exploration and documentation of these themes.
An important junction
of religion and politics came about with the liberation theology
movement. Liberation theology is a philosophy of social change
that began in Latin America in the 1960's as a transformation
of Catholicism. The best-known aspects are progressive reinterpretations
of the Bible and church doctrine and grassroots Christian communities.
Recent literature suggests that due to political changes (the
rise of the capitalist model) El Salvador may be seeing a more
protestant shift. For more on El Salvador and this topic visit
the following useful links:
I would like to use my thesis as the platform to produce an
in-depth documentary photography project on the intrinsic relationship
between religion, politics and social change in El Salvador.
I will gather photographs, interview subjects and record sound
bytes. With this information I plan to publish a website on
El Salvadoran theology and politics.
I wish to report
on aspects of the cross between theology and politics utilizing
contacted organizations with social justice projects in progress.
As of now I have contacts with several organizations in El Salvador
including Centro de Paz, Las Dignas, and the Universidad Panamerica
Biblioteca Universitara. Upon my arrival I plan to jump immediately
into shooting my first photo-story using the connection I have
made with Edgar Romero, Miguel Villela, Chamba Acosta and other
photographers who are constructing an alternative photography
project called Imágenes Libres. This group, working to
maintain minority history in El Salvador, has graciously offered
to help me get started once I arrive.
I plan to produce
at least six separate (but related) photo-essays on different
aspects of this topic. I plan to show the full range of perspective
on theology and life in the country called "The Savior."
The pictures, text and sound should combine to create a powerful
and telling multimedia presentation. In addition to web publication
I would like to hold an exhibit with text and interactive sound
at The Gallery at the University of Florida and in San Salvador.
The ultimate goal of my project is to document the role in social
development that religion plays in Latin America, specifically
El Salvador. I hypothesize this project will demonstrate the
potential for social justice religion has to offer. In the current
political climate, where religion is so often used as a justification
for violence, it is critical to demonstrate the other side.
I believe these photographs and interviews, displayed as a multimedia
exhibit and published on the web would offer both questions
and answers about religion and social change in El Salvador.