Pilgrimage to Popoyuapa: Catholic Renewal and Ethnic Performance in Neoliberal Nicaragua
Abstract

This article examines the growth of an eight-day wagon pilgrimage to the festival of Jesus the Rescuer in Rivas, Nicaragua. Pilgrims' nostalgic desire converges with Parish priests' successful marketing of the religious image to create a "renewal" that is consonant with government assertions that Nicaragua is a Catholic nation. Yet the meaning of the event for wagon pilgrims remains rooted in their sense of indigenous difference, and their own practices continue to reflect a commitment to the popular Catholicism of the mayordomía system, upon which their indigenous identity is partly based. The different meanings that organizers, participants, and observers attribute to the pilgrimage demonstrate that such popular enactments are multivocal phenomena, neither inherently conservative nor automatically resistant to the social and cultural establishment.


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