PROSPECTUS      
INTRODUCTION
BACKGROUND
METHOD
GOALS
A mural in a Peruvian cemetart reads: Nazarene give us your divine peace.

INTRODUCTION

In Christianity, 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.

BACKGROUND

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:

http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2001/5639.htm

http://atheism.about.com/library/world/AJ/bl_ElSalvadorReligion.htm

METHOD


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.

GOALS


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.

email jen
All images © Jen Sens 2002