Secular Sanctity in Chicano/a and Mexican Culture
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, About the Series, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication
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This book has been many years in the making. Over that time I have incurred many debts to family, friends, teachers, mentors, students, and colleagues. These relationships are formative, and I am humbled by the generosity that so many people have shown me. Before I acknowledge these debts, however, I want to express gratitude for the privilege of research and writing itself. While the process...
Introduction: The Secular Sanctity of Borderlands Saints
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To seek favor from La Santísima Muerte (Saint Death), folk saint and guardian of the dispossessed, devotees prepare candles and recite a novena, which may be repeated up to three times until the petition is answered. The novena consists of a prayer or invocation called a soneto (sonnet) followed by a short, fervent prayer or refrain called a jaculatoria, both of which are to be...
1. Saint of Contradiction: Teresa Urrea, La Santa de Cabora
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In the novel La insólita historia de la Santa de Cabora (1990; The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora ), Mexican writer Brianda Domecq portrays Teresa Urrea, “La Santa de Cabora” of Sonora, as she is demanding entrance at the heavenly gates shortly after her death. The ensuing scene reflects the ambiguity that surrounded Urrea during her life and after her death. The...
2. The Remains of Pancho Villa
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As befits his tumultuous life, the earthly remains of General Francisco “Pancho” Villa, the “Centaur of the North” and leader of the División del Norte in the Mexican Revolution, did not rest in peace. In 1926, three years after his murder, Villa’s head was stolen from his grave in Parral, Chihuahua (Katz, Life 789). As with all of Villa’s actions and attributes, speculation...
3. Canonizing César Chávez
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Throughout his nearly forty years of labor and civil rights organizing, César Estrada Chávez, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), civil rights leader, and Chicano icon, drew upon various modes of official and popular spirituality, investing his political project with a sense of justice rooted in religious morality and an aura of sacrifice. His spiritual practices...
4. “Todos Somos Santos”: Subcomandante Marcos and the EZLN
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Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, the spokesperson for the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN; the Zapatista Army of National Liberation), has been a revolutionary icon and the “champion of the anti-neoliberal-globalization movement” since January 1, 1994, the very day that NAFTA went into effect (Henck 1). On that day, the Zapatistas declared...
5. Illegal Marginalizations: La Santísima Muerte
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“Santa Muerte hears prayers from dark places. She was sent to rescue the lost, society’s rejects. ‘She understands us, because she is a cabrona like us. . . . We are hard people and we live hard lives. But she accepts us all, when we do good and bad,’” claims Haydé Solís Cárdenas, a resident of Mexico City’s infamous barrio Tepito and devotee of La Santísima Muerte or Saint Death (Thompson...
Conclusion: Narrative Devotion
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The narratives of secular sanctity in the borderlands are as ambivalent as they are contradictory. Through participation in rituals of exchange, identification, and disidentification with their favored secular saints and santones, devotees shape autonomous forms of civil society, challenge the authority of church and state, and articulate diverse identities as individuals and...
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About the Author
Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 5 illustrations
Publication Year: 2013