The Practice of Liberation Theology, Education, and Social Justice in Brazil

This series of videos describes the practice of Liberation theology over the past two decades in a neighborhood on the outskirts of a Brazilian city in the Northeast.  It is relevant to those who are interested in social movements in Brazil, their history, and also for those interested in Paulo Freire and critical pedagogy, as many of Freire’s ideas came out of Liberation theology as it was practiced in Brazil’s northeast.

Part 1 – In this first video, Bira takes us through the spiritual underpinnings of Liberation theology and the establishment by missionaries of a Basic Ecclesial Community.  Many social-justice movements in Brazil were spawned in these communities, including some that turned into political parties, and others that turned into militant reform movements.

Part 2- In this second video, Bira describes the housing project, Cajazeiras – its creation, its exclusion, and the dynamic interaction between those in the apartments with basic sanitation, and those in the rapidly expanding favelas around them. He introduces the missionaries Padre Luis Lintner and Pina Rabbiosi, the founders of Casa do Sol, and describes his initial formative interactions with the priest, who brought Liberation theology to the neighborhood. Finally, he situates the Casa do Sol in the context of the community of Cajazeiras.

Part 3 – In this clip, Bira describes in more detail the programs of the Casa do Sol and its use of art in the social context.  In the 1990s there was an “explosion” of NGOs in Brazil, which helped form the foundation of the quest for social justice there.  Much of their work was done with youth, through art and sports.

Part 4 – Bira in this clip articulates the positionality of Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy with Liberation theology, the Casa do Sol Itself, the Movimento Sem Terra (Landless Movement), and a culture of peace, justice, and social struggle in Brazil.  He also describes the tragedy that was visited upon the Casa do Sol a few years after its inauguration.

Part 5 – In this final clip, we wrap up the conversation.  Bira speaks about the current political turmoil in Brazil, about corruption, and about the ongoing quest for social justice.


Interview of Bira Azevedo by Andrew Della Rocca

Translated and subtitled by Andrew Della Rocca

For Dr. Arthur Romano at George Mason’s School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution





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