The Longue-Durée Impact of Religious Welfare: Secular Young Politicians in Mexico and Their Notions of Charity and the Common Good.

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:09
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Edgar ZAVALA-PELAYO, Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany
The Catholic Church in Latin America has played a welfare-provider role since its establishment as a hegemonic religion during colonial times (15th-18th centuries). Although post-independence secular reforms in the 19th and 20th centuries constrained more or less the Church's public jurisdiction and by extension its welfare supply, it is not rare, still today, to see orphanages, hospitals, shelters and a number of assistential organizations run by this Church or by lay practicing Catholics. To this historical ensemble of Catholic organizations, other Christian-minority churches have recently added their own, making Christian churches and organizations as a whole a rather quiet and selective, though ubiquitous and experienced, non-state provider of welfare services across Latin America. I will argue in this paper that both a genealogical view and a discursive-ideological focus that go beyond institutions per se can provide us with insightful knowledge of the longue-durée impact of religions on the meanings, understandings and practices of welfare beyond churches and religious organizations. Drawing on a genealogical analysis and data from semi-structured interviews to heads of political parties' youth wings in Mexico –a country where secular laws have been in place and zealously maintained since the 1850s– I will explain how in this Latin American country secular young politicians' conceptions of welfare are to varied degrees informed by Christian notions of charity and the common good.