The Asian context
Liberation theology differs from other theologies in that it starts with an analysis of the context, as it wants to respond to the cries of the people arising from it. As contextual theology we can distinguish it by regions - Latin American, African, Asian, European - and by social groups such as the poor, women, blacks, Dalits, indigenous peoples. However, none of these social or geographical identities can be understood in isolation. Contexts and identities are multiple and overlapping. The realities of class, caste, patriarchy and ethnicity, and of local, regional and global economy are intertwined. A Dalit girl working in a factory in an export-processing zone in India is exploited as an underpaid worker - like other workers around the globe - and suffers from a lack of protection by trade-union rights, while as a woman she suffers from male domination and violence - as other women do - whereas she shares her plight as an 'untouchable' suffering from caste oppression with other outcastes, male and female, in India.
What is specific about Asia, especially in contrast with Latin America, is the religio-cultural context. The overwhelming majority of the poor and oppressed in Asia are non-Christians, many of whom adhere to a wide variety of popular religious traditions which are more or less connected with the traditions of the great religions which have shaped dominant Asian cultures. Yet within Asia there are again tremendous differences. Latin America is, compared to Asia, a relatively homogeneous continent in terms of history, language, economic and political developments. Asia has to be subdivided into various regions with different cultural, religious, political and economic histories.