Theologizing Literature: Reading the Poems of Kim Chi Ha and Amado Hernandez Through the Lens of Liberation Theology

Noel Christian Aljecera Moratilla


History is replete with examples of how literature can be a critical strategy for calling out abuses, exposing forms of oppression, and envisioning democratic futures.  Two poets of note—South Korea’s Kim Chi Ha and the Philippines’ Amado Hernandez—served as their respective societies’ conscience for their unequivocal commitment to justice and equality.  Both suffered incarceration for their political and literary activities, but are now vindicated, their works considered timeless paeans to genuine freedom and democracy.  In this paper, I analyze the poems of these two important literary figures through the lens of Liberation Theology, in particular the notion of resistance as the fusion of the discourses of critique and possibility, of denunciation and annunciation.  This suggests that while some poems can be read as powerful execrations against oppression and injustice, there are also poems expressing that more humanizing conditions are possible.  The paper concludes that this dialectic of Liberation Theology may be employed in interrogating other cultural forms and practices. 


Kim Chi Ha, Amado V. Hernandez, Liberation Theology, Asian poetry

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