Feminist practical theology and (un)making structural violence against immigrant women and families

Susanne Johnson


A key thesis of this essay is that exploration of the construct of structural violence—especially as iterated in Johan Galtung’s notion of the triangle of violence—can help elucidate the theological concept of systemic or social sin, and thereby help Christians generate a more adequate ethical response to issues and dilemmas in immigration debates in the U.S. today. The notion of structural evil and sin can proffer insight into the reality of complex webs and entanglements in structural violence that enshrouds the lives and journeys of unauthorized Latino/a immigrants into the United States, and into the role of U.S. citizens in perpetuating such violence. Structural violence, seen theologically as social sin, is a conceptual key to “critical seeing” of political, social, legal, and economic structures and policies that drive forced economic immigration in the first place, and also to exposing the moral oblivion and blindness that thwarts the church from offering hospitality and justice to unauthorized immigrants. I argue that because structural violence originates in the vastly unequal distribution of power and privilege among human agents, which systematically advantages elite power brokers at the expense of people on the lowest rungs of society, then repentance from structural violence must entail collective efforts toward redistributing power, and ensuring more equitable access to resources needed for human flourishing. The primary practice and discipline dedicated to this radical task is faith-based community organizing.


Structural Violence. Latina immigrants. Justice. Faith-based Organizing

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7213/2175-1838.10.001.DS04


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