Friday, November 23, 2007

Peace studies in Spain and Latinamerica

I have recently been teaching a master course on Development and Human Rights at the International Master on Peace Conflict and Development in Castellon, University Jaume I. During my stay in Castellón I have the chance to meet a group of people from Spain and Argentina that are actively working in the field of peace studies. This area has developed extensively in Spain in Latin America in the last decades and it constitute an intesting and expansive field of research.

In Granada we have Francisco A. Muñoz at the Instituto de la Paz y los conflictos. More information on this area quite be obtained at his blog titled: naúfragos y navengantes de paz y conflictos . Angeles Arjona works at the University of Almeria. She is sociologist and she is doing and interesting work on interculturaliry and inmigration in Andalucia. You can check Laboratorio de antropologia social y cultural. Alicia Cabezudo has been working for more that two decades on issues on education on human rights and education for in different places in the world. She is also lecturer at the University of Buenos Aires and Rosario in Argentina.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Berlusconi launches a new Party

Changer tout, pour ne changer rien. To Change everything in order to change nothing.

This is sometimes used to describe the French revolution, but it would apply equally well to Italy in the last few centuries.

At the next elections--which will probably happen in 2008-- we will have two new major parties. The Democratic party representing a centre-left coalition.

And the Party of the People of Liberty. A rather clumsy name for Berlusconi's new party. The move is easy to understand. Berlusconi wants to anticipate any move of his allies who are trying to dethrone him.

Berlusconi, as a result, is launching a coalition of the willing in order to run alone with his new party at the next elections.

These changes, needless to say, are only cosmetic. All remain the same in Italy

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Secular Age

For all of you who are interested in issues of law, religion and politics in the Transatlantic world (and beyond)., I can warmly recommend Charles Taylor's new book 'A secular age.'

Taylor distinguished three possible meanings of secular, which I would classify as follows:

1-Political secularity: when religious belief is removed from the public sphere to the private sphere as a result of a political compromise

2- Social secularity: when belief fades away from our daily life and does not provide anymore a benchmark for our behaviour

3-Historico-philosophical secularity: it is interested in the evolution of the intellectual framework within which religious belief is understood.

Taylor focuses on the third meaning and explores in an open way what made us move from 1500, when believing was not an option, to 2000 when believing is but an option.

To explain such a paradigm shift, Taylor engages in a story-telling exercise which attempts to unravel the changing conditions of our own religious practices. Pivotal to his story is the emergence of 'exclusive humanism', a way of conceiving human flourishing as an end in itself. According to exclusive humanism each individual is master of his destiny and is empowered to give full meaning to his own life.

This new understanding of human flourishing replaces the Christian one that understood human flourishing as a consequence of god's love, agape. Each individual would therefore have to abandon himself in the hands of god in order to let his life flourish.

To go back to the central question then: what made the shift from 1500 to 2000 possible? the answer is in the book...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

When the Church truly and definitely concern with spiritual matters

A couple of days ago, the Catholic Church beatified 498 Catholics murdered between 1934, 1936-1939 in the course of the Spanish Civil War. This event would not be so controversial if the whole amount of people beatified would not have belonged to one side, the Francoist one . It is curious. All these 498 persons have in common that they were murdered by Republican forces that at that time were the democratic and legitimated government in Spain. Franco imposed his rule against the will of the majority of the people in Spain, but the Catholic Church approved that. During the first years of the dictatorship, cardinal Isidro Goma said that the military coup launched by Franco was " una cruzada cristiana" ( (Christian crusader).
Some persons in Spain think that it is time for the Catholic Church to apologize for this horrible historical mistake. Some persons think that the role of the Catholic Church in Spain was the one of a victim and tyrant. According to the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, in Spain there are more than 30,000 persons buried in common graves ( and these are not precisely victims of the Republicans forces). If the beatification process of these 498 persons considered as " martyrs of the twenty century" is non-partisan and political, Why we do not have among these "beatos" any person murdered by the Francoist forces? The official posture of the Catholic Church is because nobody has started the process. Many of these persons have name and surname, their cases have been extensively reported, but some sectors of the Catholic Church remain silent. In this regard, I do not necessarily agree with Lorenzo that the Church should strictly care about spiritual matters, mainly because when they try to do it, there is most of the times a strong ideology behind.