Article: “The Unfinished Work of Ignacio Martín-Baró”

The January 2013 issue of the Spanish Journal of Psychology includes an article by José María Gondra, of the Universidad del País Vasco, on the unfinished work of psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró (left). As Gondra describes, Martin-Baró’s work was cut short when he was killed by government soldiers in El Salvador in 1989. In “A Psychology of Liberation for Central America: The Unfinished Work of Ignacio Martín-Baró (1942–1989)” Gondra Martín-Baró’s work toward a liberation psychology for Central America. The abstract reads,

On November 16, 1989 the world was shocked by the news of the assassination of six Jesuits at the campus of the Universidad Centro Americana José Simeón Cañas (UCA) in San Salvador, El Salvador. Among those murdered by government soldiers was Ignacio Martín-Baró, a PhD in social psychology from the University of Chicago who at that time was the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Vice-President of the Interamerican Society of Psychology (SIP). Drawing on Martín-Baró’s published writings and non-published academic papers and correspondence, this article traces the evolution of the Spanish-born Jesuit who became a leading authority among Latin American social psychologists. In particular, it analyzes his project of becoming a clinical psychologist under the influence of psychoanalysis, his critical social psychology aimed to “de-ideologize” the oppressed social classes of El Salvador, and his ultimate project of a psychology of liberation for Latin America. Martín-Baró’s work came to a tragic end just when it began to bear fruit, but it stands as a testimony to a lifetime committed to the human values of democracy, social justice and service to society’s poorest and most neglected.

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a doctoral student in the History and Theory of Psychology program at York University. Her dissertation explores the early history of questionnaires in American psychology.

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