My Dissertation Abstract: Globalization, Violence and Salvation

Dissertation Prospectus


“To be against globalization as such is like being against electricity.  However, this cannot lead us to resign ourselves to the present order of things because globalization as it is now being carried out exacerbates the unjust inequalities among different sectors of humanity and the social, economic, political and cultural exclusion of a good portion of the world’s population.” – Gustavo Gutierrez

Understood within an analytical framework and mediating theory of economic, political and cultural globalization, the purpose of this dissertation is to critically, socially and theologically reflect upon the violence and injustice that has been enacted and endured by people in Mexico and the United States in recent years (2008 to present) as a result of the so-called drug war.  To begin I will attempt to outline the various dimensions of the phenomenon of globalization and the drug war more specifically, the latter of which is presumed to epitomize major negative aspects of the former.  This part of the examination will rely on the work of several leading social scientists who have extensively studied the U.S. – Mexico underground political economy and its genealogy. Secondly, an ethical-political critique from a view of Christian salvation will be conducted as it pertains to this particular conflict, principally but not exclusively in its social sense.  My method and hermeneutical approach will be guided by what has been called the transmodern thought of Enrique Dussel and Hans Urs von Balthasar, respectively – Dussel with regard to historical and ethical-political concerns, and von Balthasar with attention to his theological aesthetics and the dramatic structure of his doctrine of salvation as symbolized by the theological significance he gives to Holy Saturday.

Dussel’s re-reading of the history of modernity as “coloniality” from a Latin American “border thinking” perspective, as well as his Levinasian and arguably Schellingian-Marxist interpretation of social relations will be the primary lens through which I will try to situate and appreciate the more particular problem of globalization and the drug war itself.  Subsequently, in an effort to sensitize Dussel’s approach to a view from “the eyes of faith,” it is von Balthasar’s meditation on the beauty of the Christ-form that will be appropriated in order to convey a less anthropocentric and more trans-temporal, thoroughgoing Christian theo-political imagination. The study will culminate in an attempt to synthesize several key contributions of Dussel and von Balthasar by drawing on additional soteriological and ecclesial insights from Dorothee Soelle, Jon Sobrino and Gustavo Gutierrez. It will be argued finally that only a properly historical-critical (Dussel), aesthetic and christocentric (von Balthasar) liberationist soteriology (Sobrino) of communion (Gutierrez) can confer the adequate theological and ethical vision of neighborliness – one that is necessary for the inspiration of faithful Christian and ecclesial resistance (Soelle) in this crisis and others.

4 thoughts on “My Dissertation Abstract: Globalization, Violence and Salvation

  1. Cisca Ireland-Verwoerd

    Hi Bill, just found your blog when I googled ‘Gustavo Gutierrez’ together with ‘aesthetics’. I’m a PhD student at Boston University, working on theological aesthetics in the Wesleyan tradition. Currently I’m reading “Liberation, Method and Dialogue” by Roberto Goizueta, which introduces me to Enrique Dussel. My mind is almost exploding with the possibilities of a conversation between the liberation theologians (such as the three just mentioned) and John Wesley/ Wesleyan theologians. I’m interested in your liberation cum theological aesthetic approach and I’ll have to check out some of your other posts too (^_^).
    Blessings on your studies and ministry. Happy New Year!
    Cisca Ireland-Verwoerd

  2. Bill Walker Post author

    Thanks Cisca, glad to make the connection. Yes, there is so much potential for further Wesleyan and liberationist conversation/mutual construction/etc. I too have learned about the aesthetic dimension to liberation theology through Goizueta, and of course he also brings in von Balthar to some extent. I will have to revisit that book. Let’s keep in touch. I will be making another dissertation-related post shortly.

  3. Pingback: Explaining the Theological Signficance of my Dissertation | Bill Walker | Blog

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