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Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras

Coming of Age in American Ethnic Communities

Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez

Publication Year: 2013

Looking beyond the satin gowns, opera-length gloves, and sparkling tiaras that signify Filipino debutantes and Mexican quinceañeras, Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez examines the meaning of these coming-of-age rituals for immigrant American families. Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras draws parallels between these communal ceremonies, as they each share a commonality in Spanish heritage and Catholicism and include a highly ritualized party. Rodriguez analyzes these rites and festivities to explain what they reveal about the individuals, families, and communities who organize and participate in them. 

Drawing on over fifty in-depth interviews with members of these fast-growing American Asian and Latino populations, Rodriguez shows how these communal celebrations of daughters have been adapted by immigrant families to assert their cultural pride and affirm their American belonging. Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras provides an intimate and compelling portrait of the various ways immigrants and their children are purposefully, strategically, and creatively employing Filipino American debutantes and Mexican American quinceañeras to simultaneously challenge and assimilate into U.S. culture and forge new understandings of what it means to be "Mexican," "Filipino," and "American."

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

As I was writing the final draft of this book, I kept the following quotation from Father Alfred Boeddeker, founder of the St. Anthony Dining Room in San Francisco, California, pinned to the bulletin board next to my writing station: “Start doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ...

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Chapter 1. Una Cordial Invitación

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pp. 1-23

Perhaps it was because my sister and I grew up in a brotherless household. Perhaps it was because my mother, in marrying my father, grieved in secret for the dreams she surrendered to fulfill her larger ambition of immigrating to America. Or maybe it was simply economically motivated: ...

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Chapter 2. “No Two Are the Same”: Quinceañera and Debut Rituals and Performances

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pp. 24-37

For our interview, Gabriel Ortega, a Mexican American man in his mid-thirties, requested that I meet him on a sunny afternoon, at a multistory photography shop not too far from where I lived in Las Querubes. The shop was a more considerable distance from his home but was a landmark, and he was purchasing new, hard-to-find photo equipment. ...

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Chapter 3. Lazos/Ties That Bind: Quinceañera and Debut Social Networks

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pp. 38-60

The Santiago family lives just in the shadow of a place frequented by the wealthy, beautiful, and, often, cosmetically enhanced. As I passed this place on my way to interview Belinda Santiago, the female head of the family, I could not help but wonder what it was like for Belinda’s daughters to grow up in such close proximity to what, for most people, seems utterly unattainable. ...

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Chapter 4. Pagdadalaga/Blossoming: Becoming the Debutante

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pp. 61-109

The camera lingers on Olivia Hernandez for a second as the emcee, Willis, announces that her parents, Ramiro and Adele, are about to present her to the captive audience sitting inside the expansive ballroom of the Palacio del Rey, the century-old hotel where every South Cove Union of Filipino Americans (SCUFA) debutante has been “introduced to society” since 1978. ...

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Chapter 5. Traviesos/Troublemakers

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pp. 110-139

There’s a scene in the film Quinceañera when Carlos, brother of recent quinceañera Eileen and cousin of soon-to-be quinceañera Magdalena, is being seduced by the couple who own the backyard cottage he and his uncle rent. Buzzed on beers, Carlos mutters, “I’m so fucked up” as he falls backward onto the couple’s bed. ...

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Chapter 6. Pagalaala Na/Just a Remembrance: The Work of Making Memories

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pp. 140-161

The morning of her debut, Lauren Aquino’s family home bustled with the barely contained energy of a beehive preparing to gather nectar for its queen. While a dozen teenage girls fluttered between rooms in their pajamas taking turns having their hair styled, their makeup applied, and their costumes fitted one last time by a seamstress ...

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Chapter 7. Conclusion: The After-Party

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pp. 162-178

During the course of my research for this book, the many individuals, families, and communities I set out to learn about were generous enough to take me from my perch at their ventanas to welcome me into the warmth of their homes. When I asked only to quietly watch their debut and quince preparations, or to hear their family stories, ...

Appendix. Nandiyan Lang/Just over (T)Here: Ethnographic Reflections on Researching American Immigrant Families

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pp. 179-184


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pp. 185-192


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pp. 193-204


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pp. 205-213

E-ISBN-13: 9781439906293
E-ISBN-10: 1439906297
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439906286
Print-ISBN-10: 1439906289

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 842265909
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Teenage girls -- United States -- Anniversaries.
  • Coming of age -- United States.
  • Minorities -- United States -- Social life and customs.
  • Immigrants -- United States -- Social life and customs.
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