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Plenary 1
Rethinking Liberation through a Micro-Political Theology for Asians

Rev. Yin-An CHEN

Lecturer in Theology and Anglicanism,

Trinity School for Christian Mission in the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan

What is the limitation of the theological concept of liberation? Following Latin American Liberation Theology, the trend in developing political theologies in Asia has been toward fighting against structural oppressions and striving for political and economic liberation. However, the journey toward democracy and freedom in Taiwan has shown that narrowly focusing on structural changes is not ‘enough’—it is important that there is understanding that the dynamic of power and dominance is deployed flexibly to create new power relationships.


In this article, I will bring Michel Foucault’s theory of power relationships into the conversation with the concept of liberation (which is strongly connected with the Marxist idea of revolution and widely applied in Asian theology, against the political oppression of dictatorship). I will then argue how liberation-orientated theologies fail to recognise the bond between social structures and individuals in the way that they construct sexuality, desire and the body of the self. Based on this, I will explain why political change may bring about temporary liberation but cannot maintain it.

Finally, I will present my proposal for a Micro-Political Theology that will acknowledge that structural oppression cannot function by itself or in itself without power deployments working on an individual’s sexuality, desire and body. In this light, the agenda of political ‘liberation’ must be re-examined in such a way that the construction of the self in sexuality, desire and the body is considered. This new movement of political resistance—embraced and enacted by the Church—should pay more attention to the strategies of transgressing social order and discontinuing social structures. The Church should become a hub for vigilant discernment of the ways in which individuals are constructed by power relationships and for creative orientation of the ways of political resistance.



Rev’d Yin-An Chen

Taiwanese. He is ordained in the Church of England. He is also a lecturer in Theology and Anglicanism at the Trinity School for Christian Mission in the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan. His academic background is in cultural studies and anthropology and he has a MA in theology from Durham and MPhil from Kent. His MPhil dissertation is published as Toward a Micro-Political Theology: A Dialogue between Michel Foucault and Liberation Theologies (Pickwick, 2022).

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