This is the fourth volume of essays on the church in Latin America derived from papers presented at the Eighth Congress of the Association of European Latin Americanists held in Szeged, Hungary, in 1987. The essays in the fourth volume aim to provide a wide variety of historical perspectives on the role of the church from 1890 to 1945. While the contributors are primarily historians, the disciplines of political science, philosophy, and theology also are represented. Most of the seventeen short essays are by European scholars, with only three contributions from Latin Americans.
The essays cover both broad themes and specific issues and therefore should appeal to a diverse audience. Presented in no particular order, they range from general treatment of the state and religion to religion and identity in Latin America. National motifs dominate, with Argentina, Chile, and Mexico receiving the most attention. The role of the church in El Salvador and Nicaragua is addressed in well-crafted essays by Antonio Melis and Sybille Bachmann. Unfortunately, only one piece mentions the largest country in the region, and then only to discuss the role of Calvinism and economic progress in Argentina and Brazil.
Though the essays’ interpretations, in the main, are based on secondary sources, there is much to be gained from this volume. Specialists in the church in Argentina will benefit from Ryszard Stemplowski’s article on the impact of European clerics in that country in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Perhaps the greatest value of this work is the chance it gives readers to examine the interpretations of Eastern European scholars of Latin America in the new climate of openness. The “Jozsef Attila” University of Szeged should be congratulated for its efforts.