28-30 Sept. Home, Homeland, Homeland Security

This week we devoted Monday to discuss connections between home, homeland, and homeland security. Travels through borders, life journeys, and transits between the original home, the homeland, and the new home, that one where for Latinas the Department of Homeland Security awaits and changes all border lines. We considered how religion, faith, devotion, spirituality, and religiosity travel through borders. Reverend Martel guided us through the dysfunctional GPS travels of her return to her homeland to find that time, space, and other parameters of her Evangelical religion did not work as they do in the mainland. Borrego and Menjívar laid out important definitions of legal violence at the border, and we considered how those interacted with motherhood, that event related to the same, and not, fertility that we have discussed for some of the sacred female figures about whom we have read.

On Wednesday, those present in class bravely shared their thoughts on the final research project. Bravo! Mega brownie points to those of you there, who spoke out. We also learned about resources, and the Research Guide that Phil MacLeod has kindly and generously put together especially for our seminar. Call on him, please.

For this week, please write a reflection on one of these two days: one, on the issue of home-homeland-homeland security; or two, on your final research project. Questions, concerns, ideas, musings.

Given how late I got to posting this, I am not going to impose a deadline on you. My apologies for this delay, know that time of delivery of your post for this week will be at your own pace. If you already drafted your post and were just waiting for the prompter, post as soon as you can. Otherwise, think about this and post whenever it is possible for you, knowing that in the next few weeks you will have other postings coming up. Happy posting!

13 replies on “28-30 Sept. Home, Homeland, Homeland Security”

Through the reading of “My GPS Doesn’t Work in Puerto Rico”, Rev. Martell-Otero introduces the concept of una espiritualidad encarnado, an embodied spirituality that incorporates the elements of una presencia de dios, testimonio encarnado, and sacred place in a discourse of Latina Evangelica spirituality. Martell contests the nature of immateriality and invisibility associated with God, and rather insists that “His Spirit is an embodied transcendence into the world and particularly in the community” (261). Latinas experience the presence of God in daily living within a sacred space of spirituality and devotion to Him, which becomes magnified by the shared devotion with others in the community. As a marginalized group of people, the shared collective of solidarity and spirituality amongst a Latina community becomes a source of strength to navigate difficult and insurmountable circumstances. Martell describes that el testimonio encarnado, the Word becoming flesh is the tool that uplifts Latinas to overcome the inequalities and systematic racisms created by a patriarchal society that places them and others of color in disadvantaged positions.

In the article “Immigrant Latina Mothers as Targets of Legal Violence”, immigration law and legal issues threaten the familial community structure of Latina mothers living in the US. Family and community networks are the core foundation for strength, spirituality, and survival in Latina diaspora communities. The legalities of unwarranted ICE raids, separation of children and mothers based on legal status, and inaccessibility to social services for vulnerable people are abhorrent crimes imposed on an immigrant community. These actions not only physically separate a family entity, but also break down the physical and emotional well being of a mother and her children. The ramifications of such legal consequences cause anxiety in the lives of immigrant mothers and prevent them from seeking access to healthcare and social services regardless of their immigrant status. Instead of creating security in the homeland, the legal issues concerning immigration law seem to be jeopardizing the ethics of human rights and building xenophobic rhetoric that sterotypes a particular group of people.

For my final project, one of the ideas I wanted to explore is how Pentecostalism and Catholicism influence the domestic and social life of Latina diaspora communities in the US. The Padilla article and the Pew Research article that we read in earlier weeks made me think about some of the connections that religion played in decision making of Latina groups I have worked with as a social worker. The other idea I had was a comparitive examination of Ethiopian Christian Mysticism and Hispanic Mysticim on spirtuality and healing on the body. I have noticed a lot of parallels between Ethiopian Orthdox faith and Hispanic Catholicism on communal spirituality from many of the readings. The similiraties maybe due to the mixture of Jewish and Arabic cultures found in both populations, and the similarities between Yoruba religion in Latin America and Bantu Religion in Southern Ethiopia.

For my final research project, I am interested in doing a comparative analysis between Pachamama and the Virgin de Guadalupe, as two ‘insurgent’ deities for Latina Women. I’m interested in writing a comparative analysis because of the centrality of syncretism and multiplicity in Latina lives, world-making and religious and spiritual practice. By centering an analysis around Pachamama and la Virgen de Guadalupe, I hope to answer some of the following questions: How does Pachamama worship compare to the worship of la Vigen de Guadalupe?
How are they experienced in space – what kind of bonds do they create between women, and how do they affect women’s self making under subordination? At a surface level, both Pachamama and La Virgen de Guadalupe have much in common. With Pachamama being the ‘Mother of Earth’ and la Virgen representing ‘Mother of God’, both carry connotations of motherhood, fertility and protection for Latina women. Their artistic depiction, as well, are extremely similar, connoting a divine feminine (despite Pachamama’s articulation as more-than human).

However, I don’t anticipate this analysis to be extremely straightforward, and have many reservations about the project. First of all, I worry that because of the radically different religio-spiritual backgrounds of the two, that a comparison of them would oversimplify either figure, essentially pitting one deity against another. I hope to mitigate this by analyzing specifically how they are worshiped and followed, as their articulation by Latina women will give me a better sense of their presence in everyday life and their importance from within the locus of their worship, not outside of it.

For my research project, I want to explore how religion and status intersect in the Hispanic community, and more broadly, if one affects the other. Throughout our course thus far, we’ve seen that many times Latinas use religion as a space to build community and strength, especially in times of tremendous strife. Immigrating to another country is not easy, and these problems only compound further when someone is undocumented. Things that often other take for granted, like health, security, and employment are much less attainable for people who are undocumented. So in light of all these hardships, does religion become one of the few universal systems that undocumented immigrants can rely on in a country that exploits and demonizes them simultaneously.

I believe that I can find two possible outcomes to my research. Either undocumented communities depend more on religion/spirituality as a source of comfort, or like many Latinos who have migrated to the US, have loss their religious fervor and may even convert to other forms of Christianity. I suspect that my first hypothesis is more correct, but I’m willing to be proven wrong if there are studies out there to back the second point.

Reflecting on both Monday and Wednesday classes last week, I appreciated both the centralizing discussion on home, homeland, and homeland security as well as our class tuning in on each other’s ideas about our final projects. In regards to Monday’s reading, “My GPS Doesn’t Work in Puerto Rico” I found it interesting to read about how Martell wrote about the daily societal lives and inequalities Latinas face as well as the influence of spirituality and Latina Evangelical Spirituality. Learning further about the role and influence of spirituality as well as what outsiders believe versus what actually is was an incredibly interesting topic that I enjoyed amongst other discourses in Monday’s class. Additionally, Monday’s discussion on the second reading “Immigrant Latina Mothers as Targets of Legal Violence” was especially interesting to me because for my final project, one of the topics I am considering is about will be formulating something analyzing the shifting religious identity of Latinos in the US in a time range type of comparison. Specifically, I am interested at looking at historical previous religious influences from spirituality practices and possible comparing those to the modern religious shifting. One other idea I have for the final project would be to centralize in on the role of gender, health, healing and the environment in terms of interconnectivity by exploring the synergy of motherhood, values, among others through a comparison on guiding figures such as Afro-Cuban Oshún, Virgen de la Caridad del Cobra, and Amerindian La Pachamama. I am interested in a literary analysis comparison amongst the three figures in the meanings they embody in relation to gender roles and motherhood and then comparing it to modern day gender roles and what it means to be a mother in our current day with also referencing JLo’s video too.

I enjoyed this past week’s discussions so much! Martell’s and Abrejo and Mentjívar’s readings were not only relatable but informative. While reading Abrejo and Mentjívar’s piece, I saw how the effects of legal violence have been reflected in my own life experience. As the daughter of an immigrant Latina, I’ve always known that my mother was subjected to legal violence but I never knew the name for it. I see the self-sacrifices my mother has made for my sister and I like going almost 20 years without seeing her brother. Right now, with the recent loss of uncle, my mother can’t be with the rest of her family because she risks our well-being and her “well-being.” This piece along with Martell’s piece reflected aspects of my life that I had always known were present but never knew other people experienced those same aspects so similarly.

In Martell’s piece, I appreciated the mention of community within Latina spirituality. My whole life I’ve loved the Latina communities I’ve formed or have been a part of because of the support and the love. Even though I don’t think I’ve ever come in touch with my spirituality, Latina communities are definitely something I’ve experienced and am eternally grateful for. We definitely are a group that tends to think about community and space and how we can make it our own.

In terms of my project, I still want to explore Pachamama, Maria Lionza, and Yemayá as these influential figures even though they are not mother’s in the traditional sense. They do not birth children the way that Mary birthed Jesus. I think I might want to do more on how rituals impact mothers and non-mothers, something that we discussed on Wednesday. Perhaps how these rituals promote or don’t promote fertility. It’s definitely something I’m still working on and hope to fully configure within these next couple of weeks.

For my research project, I discussed the idea of studying replication of devotion sites from one native city to another. Although this is a good starting point, it may be close to the lines of ethnography. This field of ethnography requires training in order to answer one central question since ethnography is an inquiry with various options. It could also represent the opportunity of a creative research project if we live in a prominent immigrant community. In the end, this led me to believe that I could perhaps focus on analyzing one area of religion. Specifically, the relation between divinities and motherhood. The concept of motherhood is one that fascinates me and I would love to delve deeper into its relation with Latina purity. Meanwhile, I could also discuss a close religious divinity: La Virgen de Guadalupe. At a young age, I was taught to honor God’s mother and I could also study the reasons why for my final research project. Despite the many possibilities, I have yet to decide on one subject.

This past week’s readings were deeply thought-provoking for me. Regarding Gonzalez’s work about religion’s role and the presence of God, sacred place, and testimonies, I particularly found the temporal and spatial relationships of Latinas and religion interesting (e.g. when speaking at a Latino church, she doesn’t ask how much time but about who the audience is and what the topic is). Secondly, reading about legal violence and the role of mothers as well as the fear they have regarding undocumented status, I realized the physical, emotional, and political complexities of their situations. (mixed status families etc.)

It is understood that many Latinas find their strength through such difficult circumstances through their faith and community. Hence for my research project, I would like to focus on the theological justification and response to “illegal” status in the U.S. I would like to ask the following question: What guidance does evangelical Christian/Pentecostalism and Catholicism offer to Latinas who are considering migrating or have already immigrated without legal authorization? And do these views on immigration based on religious belief correspond with Christians outside of the Latinx community? How might this theological/ethical belief affect voters/policy makers regarding immigration?

For my research paper, I want to explore curanderismo and their relationship to religion in Latin America. Curanderismo is a term referring to the practice of traditional healing in Latin American cultures. They have remedies for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual illnesses. It is different from medical care people get in the hospital. Our discussion and readings from “In Sickness, In Health” got me interested, with Pachamama evoking spirituality to people who relate with the Earth and land. I wonder about the natural, more-than-human, healing practices that is different from the normal healing pharmaceutical practices that we typically see in America. I hope to tie this back to religion and analyze rituals that may happen under this traditional healing method.

This past week the texts we focused on gave us a look into Latinas and Religion when it comes to home, homeland, and homeland security. I really enjoyed reading both articles, Martell-Otero’s on spirituality for evangelicas and Abrego & Menjibar’s piece on legal violence against immigrant mothers, because they touched upon topics I dealt with frequently in my early childhood (evangelismo and immigration).
One point that stood out as particularly interesting for me was the idea of time presented in her section of Sacred Spaces of Lo Cotidiano. Martell-Otero differentiates her experience in the United States, where she has always been pressured by time when delivering sermons, and her experience in Puerto Rico, where time simply does not work the same. Time works differently in Puerto Rico, she does not have to worry about how long her sermon will be because time is dedicated to be present for each other within a community; these things cannot be rushed and are on God’s time. (265)
For my final project, I am still raking through different ideas in order to form questions. I am really interested in is possibly exploring something that was mentioned in the video we watched about Femicide in Honduras which was the idea that a country full of so many churches is one of the most dangerous for women. This is something I’ve heard many women tell me from personal testimony as well from other countries in Central American. For example, not too long ago I was able to hear a women from El Salvador speak about a specialty coffee farm she has and she reported that one thing she does not like is that she does not feel safe commuting around by herself in her country because she is a woman. One question I have been asking myself is what role does the church play in this situation? Do they have a system to help women and protect them? Or is there a stricter/more conservative view by the church of what men are allowed to do to women? What are the victims’ sentiments towards the church? I believe some preliminary research on the topic (because I do not know much about it) will help me establish a methodology and fixed question to better approach it.

For my research project, I want to explore the relationship between Women and Ayahuasca. First of all, Ayahuasca is a brew made out of various parts of plants that were originally utilized in a spiritual and religious ritual by some religious communities mainly in Peru and Brazil, but also in Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Chile (former Incan territory.) “Ayahuasca” means “rope that unites the world on the living and the dead” and it was utilized as a purification ritual in indigenous communities in the Amazon Rainforest. Ayahuasca is being used by women as a feminist act to cure the wounds of the patriarchy. I want to explore how women and Ayahuasca make “more than human” connections and how it ties up with being a feminist act.

In class I expressed the idea of doing my project around the relationship of religion and health in a Latin American community, either in Latin America or in the U.S. Since then I’ve explored this concept through the use of google scholar as I have yet to utilize the resources Phil MacLeod presented to us. I’ve come across a lot of studies discussing the quality of life of Latinas in relation to religion after being diagnosed with different kinds of cancers, with breast cancer being the most prominent cancer focused on. I started exploring this health–religious relationship after a meeting I had with my Maternal, Infant, and Women’s Health committee leader for one of my organizations in which we discussed the dissemination of information regarding breast health for rural Guatemalan women who many times did not speak spanish and only spoke their indigenous languages. This also made me think about whether the ability to speak a language other than spanish within cultural-spiritual-religious spheres allows certain privileges or disadvantages for the individuals with that ability. As you can see, I still don’t have a concrete or very specific idea but I’m still exploring and trying to figure out where my interests are within the scope of this class.

I also came up with the idea of exploring religious coping mechanisms of Latinas within carceral institutions but realized that there probably isn’t going to be much research on that out there and I don’t have the ability to interview Latinas in prisons and detention centers. So, I had to table that unfortunately.

For my research project, I’m really interested in seeing how Latinas are reworking ideas/notions of purity and the containment of feeling, pleasure, and desire of the flesh through a framework of the erotic. Specifically, I’m wondering if there are practices that exist or have emerged that center Latinas’ lived/embodied experiences and the ways that they can feel fulfilled in their present lives rather than a framework that focuses on a divine realm or transcendental space beyond our daily lives. I’m wondering if these practices exist/thrive outside of the Church? Do they emerge within the Church and challenge its notions directly?

I’m also really interested in looking at the dynamics and promises of religious beliefs/practices focused on purity versus ones that are focuses on the power of feeling and cultivating the erotic?

For my final project, I wanted to explore the topic of sexuality and its relationship to religion. This topic is very important and personal to me since I am a Latina that has had to deal with parental shortcomings when it comes to talking about sexuality. I began by trying to focus on only the sexual orientation part of it. I wanted to examine what effect religion had on the LGBTQ+ population of Latinos because I thought that was the biggest issue. I reexamined and realized that without addressing the machismo that is found not only in Latinx culture but also in the Catholic Church that I was pushed into in my childhood. Most of my final paper was in turn mostly focused on the Church’s effect on women as they play a big role in women’s rights (despite being run almost entirely by men).

Leave a Reply