Gustavo Morello, S.J.
Ph.D., Universidad de Buenos Aires, 2011
McGuinn Hall 422
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Gustavo Morello on academia.edu
Religion, Global and Transnational sociology (Latin America), Political Sociology.
I took grades in Philosophy, Universidad del Salvador 1991; Theology, Universidad del Salvador 2007; Master in Social Science, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba 2001; Ph.D. in Social Sciences, Universidad de Buenos Aires 2011.
I work on the relations between Catholics and politics in Argentina and Latin America’s recent history. How did Catholics deal with Latin America’s injustice? Why did some of them join revolutionary armies? Why did others help dictatorships to crush their fellow Catholics? To some extent, part of the answer to these questions rely on the idea of the secular, that is in the relation between religion and the public sphere. What does it mean secularization in Latin America? Is secularization the same all over the world?
The Catholic Church and Argentina's Dirty War, 2015
On August 3rd, 1976, in Córdoba, Argentina's second largest city, Fr. James Week and five seminarians from the Missionaries of La Salette were kidnapped. A mob burst into the house they shared, claiming to be police looking for “subversive fighters.” The seminarians were jailed and tortured for two months before eventually being exiled to the United States.
The perpetrators were part of the Argentine military government that took power under President General Jorge Videla in 1976, ostensibly to fight Communism in the name of Christian Civilization. Videla claimed to lead a Catholic government, yet the government killed and persecuted many Catholics as part of Argentina’s infamous Dirty War. Critics claim that the Church did nothing to alleviate the situation, even serving as an accomplice to the dictators. Leaders of the Church have claimed they did not fully know what was going on, and that they tried to help when they could. Gustavo Morello draws on interviews with victims of forced disappearance, documents from the state and the Church, field observation, and participant observation in order to provide a deeper view of the relationship between Catholicism and state terrorism during Argentina's Dirty War.
Morello uses the case of the seminarians to explore the complex relationship between Catholic faith and political violence during the Dirty War—a relationship that has received renewed attention since Argentina’s own Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis. Unlike in countries such as Chile and Brazil, Argentina's political violence was seen as an acceptable tool in propagating political involvement; both the guerrillas and the military government were able to gain popular support. Morello examines how the Argentine government deployed a discourse of Catholicism to justify the violence that it imposed on Catholics and how the official Catholic hierarchy in Argentina rationalized their silence in the face of this violence. Most interestingly, Morello investigates how Catholic victims of state violence and their supporters understood their own faith in this complicated context: what it meant to be Catholic under Argentina’s dictatorship.
2012. ‘Comunidad política, sociedad civil y actores religiosos. Un caso de articulación en torno a la defensa de los derechos humanos en la Argentina de los años ‘70’, Latin American Research Review, Vol., 47; n.3, Pittsburgh, (EE.UU).
2012. ‘Catholicism(s), State Terrorism and Secularization in Argentina’, Bulletin of Latin American Research Review, Vol. 31, n.3, pp. 366-380. Liverpool (UK).
2011. ‘El terrorismo de Estado y la redefinición de lo secular en Argentina’, Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas/Anuario de Historia de América Latina, Graz, Austria, vol. 48, ISBN 978-3-412-20678-9.
2010. ‘Charles Taylor’s modernity in a Latin American Catholicism’ en Politics and the Religious Imagination, Editores: John Dyck, Paul Rowe, and Jens Zimmermann, Routledge, Routledge Studies in Religion and Politics, London and New York, p. 143-159. ISBN 978-0-415-77998-2. Read the Abstract.
2007. ‘Charles Taylor’s “Imaginary” and “Best Account” in Latin America’ in Philosophy and Social Criticism, Sage Publications. (Los Angeles - London) 33: 617-639, ISSN 0191-4537.
Professional honors and Awards
Visiting Scholar - Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, 2009 - 2010.
Grant from Irmgard Coninx Foundation for the Tenth Berlin Roundtables on Urban Governance. “Urban Governance: Innovation, Insecurity and the Power of Religion”, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Humboldt University, Berlin, March 2009.
Grant for the Symposium “Politics and the Religious Imagination”. Faith Forward Series: Exploring Religion, Culture and Conflict Symposium. Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia, Canada, March 2008.
The transformation of lived religion in urban Latin America: a study of contemporary Latin Americans’ experience of the transcendent (*).
This groundbreaking project explores how urban, contemporary Latin Americans, both believers and non-believers, from different social classes and generations experience transcendence in everyday life. This study will not rely on past approaches to studying secularization in North America and Europe, but rather it will bring a new perspective—that of ordinary people acknowledging their free will and creativity in the religious/spiritual realm. How do people articulate free will within their religious/spiritual traditions and exercise their creativity and talent for innovation in prayer or in other religious/spiritual practices? How have everyday life dynamics and religious competition affected lived religion? We will explore the quest for the divine at the borders of religious institutions and in relation to them, in 3 different cities which have experienced significant religious pluralization and competition: Córdoba, Argentina; Lima, Perú; and Montevideo, Uruguay. We will sample people from different SES groups, self-identified as ‘nones’ (agnostics, non-affiliated, atheist, etc.), Catholics, Evangelicals (including main line Protestants, Evangelicals, neo-Evangelicals), and Other Traditions (including Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Afro cults, Native American spiritualities, New Age, etc.), collecting ‘religious/spiritual narratives’ through in-depth interviews of life histories and ‘object-elicitation’ meetings about pictures of significant places, symbols, and meaningful artifacts. We will focus on the story itself, using the interviewees’ spontaneous narrations as our main resource to develop a grounded theory of Latin Americans’ lived religiosity/spirituality. The project will contribute to a growing understanding of human nature and its relationship with the divine by disseminating the findings to scholarly audiences (conferences, papers, book), religious/spiritual leaders and journalists (workshops), and the general public (press releases, trade book).
(*)This project is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
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