I’ve just seen my first genuine piece of psychology graffiti. The picture is from a wall in Universidad de Antioquia and the graffiti is promoting a conference on the application of ‘liberation psychology’ to preventing violence and helping the victims of violence in Colombia.
The text in Spanish is roughly translated as “We propose a scientific endeavour committed to historical reality and the problems and aspirations of the people” and is a quote from social psychologist and Catholic priest Ignacio Martín-Baró.
Martín-Baró was working in El Salvador during its bloody civil war and was using social psychology to research the opinions and views of the people and was producing results contrary to the propaganda of the army and government.
He was murdered by the El Salvadorian army in 1989 but he has had a massive influence on psychology and public policy in Latin America.
This in part was due to his strong belief in social psychology as an applied discipline to improve the society and the conditions of the poorest and most deprived.
While liberation psychology itself is typically associated with the left, one of Martín-Baró’s legacies is the practice of using social psychology for social improvement, something which is widely accepted in Latin America, regardless of political orientation.
It may seem strange that a conference is being advertised through graffiti, but political graffiti is common on the university campus and ranges from spray painted slogans to huge colourful murals.
If you’re interested in learning more about liberation psychology, The Psychologist had a 2004 article discussing both the discipline and Martín-Baró.
Link to The Psychologist article on liberation psychology.