Guadalupe in New York: Devotion and the Struggle for Citizenship Rights among Mexican Immigrants

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Every December 12th, thousands of Mexican immigrants gather for the mass at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day. They kiss images of the Virgin, wait for a bishop’s blessing—and they also carry signs asking for immigration reform, much like political protestors. It is this juxtaposition of religion and politics that Alyshia Gálvez investigates in Guadalupe in New York.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a profound symbol for Mexican and Mexican-American Catholics and the patron saint of their country. Her name has been invoked in war and in peace, and her image has been painted on walls, printed on T-shirts, and worshipped at countless shrines. For undocumented Mexicans in New York, Guadalupe continues to be a powerful presence as they struggle to gain citizenship in a new country.

Through rich ethnographic research that illuminates Catholicism as practiced by Mexicans in New York, Gálvez shows that it is through Guadalupan devotion that many undocumented immigrants are finding the will and vocabulary to demand rights, immigration reform, and respect. She also reveals how such devotion supports and emboldens immigrants in their struggle to provide for their families and create their lives in the city with dignity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Portrays the dilemmas of being a recent Mexican immigrant in New York City today. This book analyzes how the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe provides a means for immigrants to articulate their aspirations for belonging and, ultimately, citizenship in the United States. Written with vivid grace, this book is a pleasure to read and should be required reading for all concerned with these issues.”
-Renato Rosaldo,Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, Emeritus, Stanford University

"Galvez' book is a fascinating and valuable study of the intersection between contemporary religious practice and national identity among New York City's Mexican immigrant community."-Paul Kahan,Religious Studies Review

“Galvez’s findings offer much to consider for students of religious, ethnic, and transnational identities.”-Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814732144
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alyshia Gálvez, a cultural anthropologist, is Assistant Professor of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies at Lehman College, City University of New York. She is editor of the book Performing Religion in the Americas and Traveling Virgins/Virgenes Viajeras, an issue of the journal e-misférica.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
1 Introduction
2 On Citizenship, Membership, and the Right to Have Rights
3 Los Comités Guadalupanos and Asociación Tepeyac: Their Formation and Context
4 Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Image and Its Circulation
5 El Viacrucis del Inmigrante and Other Public Processions
6 La Antorcha Guadalupana/The Guadalupan Torch Run: Messengers for a People Divided by the Border
7 Conclusion: Citizenship for Immigrants
Appendix: A Note on Methodology and the Use of Pseudonyms
About the Author

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