Oct. 4-6. Home, Homeland, Homeland Security

This week we discussed what it means to walk the broken paths of home, homeland, and homeland security that turn upside down all we have learned until now.  The strength and purity of blood, honor, lineage, healing, and so on that we have seen and aprehended become bloody, violent, and deadly, especially for mothers, as we approach borders and cross them.  Political borders.  Gender borders.  Religious borders. 

On Monday considered the first set of questions: what is home, and what is homeland? How do they relate to Homeland Security? What roles and expectations happen at home? In the territory of the homeland? How do Latinas experience position reversal, and how do they engage that as hope for the oppressed and dispossessed?

On Wednesday the readings led us to two other questions seemingly disparate in relation to the first, and yet, intimately related to it: on the one hand, how can evangelism work for a woman (Martell) in exile from her homeland of Puerto Rico?  And on the other, how do Latinas become targets of violence when they cross borders such as the US/Latino America, or Spain/the US (Abrego & Menjibar). We discussed the latter more than the former. However, we had noted Martell’s reading earlier in the semester. If it spoke to you, make sure you incorporate it in your commentary this week.

By Sunday evening, please post a comment on how this set of three critical terms–home, homeland, Homeland Security–contribute to further your theoretical / interpretative approach to religion and your reading of its practice at home and in exile.


  1. Though I know it may seem counterproductive to compare the plight of the Jewish identity to that of a Latinx person, be they religious or not, I find that my experience as a Jewish person often has resounding similarities with the issues and situations that we share in class. Particularly relevant is the topic of home, homeland, and homeland security. It is not hard to imagine and comprehend the suffering and oppression that the Jews experience anywhere in the world. Within the Jewish community, there is a hotly contested stance that Israel is the homeland and that the Zionists are the true Jews. However, to be Jewish is to carry one’s Jewishness within them. It is not just a religion, but an ethnicity, an identity, and in some parts of the world, it is a race as well. Judaism spans all colors, from the Black Ethiopian Jews to the white Ashkenazim of Europe. My understanding of Latinas and their experience of home and homeland is that, despite the diaspora, the displacement, the wrongful imprisonment, the need to move somewhere else for work or security, the puppet governments that kill and create a need to emigrate, and the idea that Latinx and indigenous Latin Americans have an origin but unequal access to the narratives governing their bodies, for me, resembles the way my family speaks about our Jewish background. For us, there is a need to assimilate but still preserve our roots. There is also a need to practice our traditional customs and holidays, eat our sacred foods, and find a place where we may be safe in our identity. When one is denied access to a definitive space to live and be, one must carry one’s identities, roots, and beliefs with them, and one must not lose them (unless one wants to, of course). Even within this country which claims to be a place where “freedom of religion” is true but is an arbitrary guarantee, it is impossible to not be subjected to ridicule and harm unless one passes as “one of the rest.” I am always in exile: for being Jewish in a hometown that praised Baptist and racist ministry, for being gay in the deep south, for being a feminine body, etc. I carry with me the past and future of my family and their struggles, and I continue to look for a place where I am allowed to be my own home and be safe. I realize that my privilege occurs in my appearance, my ability to fly under the radar.

    I think the aspect of this week’s discussion that resonated the most with me was the concept of role reversal, and the idea of owning one’s oppression and implementing it as a way to inspire others who find themselves a subject of mistreatment based on identity and religious beliefs. There are numerous peoples across the earth who suffer for who they are: queer people, black people in the colonial West, the disabled, religious minorities, and indigenous natives, etc. Not to be confused for romanticizing the condition of being oppressed, what role reversal allows is the chance for these oppressed peoples the ability to again have some sort of agency over their oppressors. It doesn’t necessarily mean that by becoming self-aware, there is an immediate action against the oppressors that leads to freedom; rather, what occurs is the oppressed finding strength in the knowledgee that they still have themselves, that they are still people who continue to live and will one day have some sort of reward for existing under such horrid conditions. Again, this should not be taken to mean that suffering is necessary. However, when one is already a subject of oppression, role reversal offers the chance to see beyond and find strength in a higher being, power, or idea which may provide solace despite the conditions. This is a beautiful concept, and it resonates with me very much. When it feels as though I will never be seen as more than my appearance or more than my identities, I find comfort knowing that I may find inner strength in the history of my family fleeing oppression, I may find courage knowing that I wear my queerness proudly in the vain of those who fell victim to hate crimes or discrimination, and I may find the wherewithall to keep on despite any barriers before me. Powerful religious figures offer this strength to others, especially those like St. Sebastian who has become a queer saint icon, or the Virgin of Guadalupe, or Esther to others. If one finds strength in these figures, then one must also find strength in oneself.

  2. When asked the question what does home mean to me I said home is where I am my most authentic self and no part of me is hiding. Whereas homeland is where culturally I am from but that does not mean that I am at home there. Lastly, homeland security is the group that take so many people away from their homeland or even prohibits people from building a home in the United States. Religion can be something instilled in you from your homeland or something that you learn and teach in your home. It can also be something that you take with you when you are leaving your homeland or starting at a new place in a home. These three words helped me understand that religion is transferable. It is wherever you want it to go. If you do not want to carry your religion with you, you can leave it at your old home or homeland before you start somewhere new. It can also be kept with you wherever you go as long as choose to practice your religion. Religion has less to do with the physical place but the bodies that carry it. As long as we choose to continue to practice our specific religion we carry it into every home or homeland we go to.

  3. It’s not a question of where is home, but what is home. I loved hearing everyone’s answers of what home means to them. To me, home is where I feel most comfortable, secure, safe, and can be with my friends or family. On the other hand, homeland is where the origin is. Homeland security is about making the homeland safER. In discussing these three terms, I realized how religion can be transferred between home and homeland. Religion can be carried over between home and homeland, but it can also easily be left behind as people flee or migrate away from their homes and homelands. Ethnography can be used to explain the connection between home and homeland to the expected roles of Latinas presented by narratives of the Virgin Mary. We can see how damaging different versions of the Virgin Mary are to Latina women in setting expectations to how women should act, dress, etc. We also discussed the question of whether we need to consider violence when discussing Latinas. I think the answer is absolutely yes. Latinas often become the targets of violence when they cross borders. Part of homeland security is the branch of ICE, which separates families at the border and mistreats and neglects Hispanics all the time. There are legal violence laws that intentionally or unintentionally hurt Latina immigrants and a huge debate on the legal definition of violence which disproportionately affects immigrants. There is also the issue of violence against women within borders as we saw in the video which discussed the major issue of femicide in Honduras.

  4. Homeland security is a terrifying topic for many Latinas in the United States. It is a source of fear and violence for many as they migrate into the US and it hinders their ability to fulfil their expected roles as Latinas. It is difficult to provide and care for your children when you live in fear of being arrested or being separated from your loved ones. These expectations also change as soon as you step foot here as you dive into a million responsibilities and take on multiple jobs to put food on the table. As an immigrant, it took me a long time to call the United States my home. It is difficult to call a place where you feel unsafe a home. It must be a million times more difficult to those who are labeled as “illegal”. A lot of Latinas homelands are also equally if not more dangerous than risking deportation or detention here. Devotion helps to ease the hardships and make the US our home. I thought of the terms of home and homeland as closely related to sacred place and where that is for us. Bringing beliefs and devotion with us when we migrate makes the unfamiliar more bearable as many have hope that all the sacrifice will pay off. In exile religion helps Latinas take a certain amount of homeland with them in their journeys to the unknown it is a place of comfort and safety because it is something that they grew up with and know.

  5. I believe that home is not necessarily tied to a physical place, but rather, embodies a feeling of safety, security, and comfort, and symbolizes a space where one can uninhibitedly be themselves, and be free from the social shackles, restrictions, and constraints that society often puts on them. I believe that homeland describes a place of origin, and thus, is tied to a physical, geographical space, a cultural or social part of which one can choose to carry with them as they migrate to a different land. Homeland security to me, is a way of making the homeland safer, and protecting it from ‘dangerous outsiders.’ However, in the US, especially after the Department of Homeland Security was established in 2002, in response to the heinous 9/11 terrorist attacks, homeland security has become a concept that is used to justify discrimination against any ‘foreign’ person assumed to pose some sort of threat to the homeland, such as Muslims, and Mexicans. In this sense, homeland security has come to embody not just a physical land, but rather, a way of protecting American ideals, and society, and the prejudiced notion of what it means to be American, and who is eligible to be American, which clearly does not include Muslims, Mexicans, and other ‘foreign’ individuals. Therefore, homeland security ironically, makes certain segments of individuals that flee or migrate to the US feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and unwelcome, and prevents them from creating a home in the US. Moreover, Latinas frequently become the targets of violence both within their homeland, as we witnessed in the tragic Femicide in Honduras video, as well as their new land once they migrate and cross borders. In their paper titled “Immigrant Latina Mothers as Targets of Legal Violence,” Abrego and Menjivar highlight the “ways that immigration laws in the United States constrain Latina immigrants from fulfilling their socially prescribed expectations of motherhood,” (9) through agencies such as ICE, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, and separates families at the border, justified by certain legally violent laws. Importantly, Abrego and Menjivar argue that “at contemporary immigration laws at the federal level – particularly the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 – as well as those at the state and local levels, along with their implementation, are a form of ‘legal violence’ that not only restricts [both documented and undocumented] immigrant women’s ability to mother their children but also brings suffering to these women as mothers” (9).
    I believe that religion and one’s religious beliefs are not necessarily tied to one’s home, or homeland, since it can be instilled in one from their family in their home, or from the cultural norms and traditions of their homeland. Thus, religion is transferable and movable, since one can take it with them as they move to a different land, or create a new home. However, religion is also changeable and dynamic, and one can adapt, transform, or change their religion as they move to a different geographic space, or find a new and different home. One can choose whether to carry their religion to a different space with them, or adopt a different religion, based on what their original religion meant to them, and symbolized for them in their homeland or home. Thus, religion is tied to the bodies or people that follow it, believe it, and adopt it, rather than to a physical space such as the homeland, or even the home. Religion is carried into each home that one creates and discovers, and from each homeland, as long as it is practiced, even though what that religion means, is, and how it is practiced, may transform from home to home, and from the homeland to a new land. Furthermore, ethnographic accounts and narratives are very useful when it comes to understanding the relationship that Latinas share with their home and homeland, and the connection that those relationships have to their interaction with the diverse narratives and roles of the Virgin Mary. The relationship that Latina mothers have to the Virgin Mary often changes upon their migration from their homeland, as they work hard to provide a roof over their children’s heads, and ensure that there is food on the table, and thus, experience a reversal of roles from a mother and a caregiver, to a financial provider, which goes against traditional Catholic ideals, and the conventional imagery and iconography of the Virgin Mary.

  6. I believe it is important to understand that a major part of someone joining a religion for the community aspect. When people are struggling with the concept of home, where and who, it can have a large affect on those individuals. When you bring in homeland security, it adds a whole other level. A benefit a church has is being in the gray area when it comes to certain laws, like providing food and shelter without question. A woman who just moved to the US who is struggling to find a job can be ‘saved’ by a church with a community who looks like her, talks like her, and cares like her. The church appears as this safe haven for the dispossessed group. This story has been replicated multiple times. On the other hand, religion can be used as a tactic to displace one’s sense of home and security. In some communities, religious groups act as homeland security making newly dispossessed communities lose their original sense of home. This can be a whole discussion post in itself. When thinking of how religion can add one’s home, homeland and move away from homeland security, it can be in the small acts as well as the larger ones. Churches can connect people, connect resources. When I questioned my sense of homeland, going to church and attending mass helped me feel as if I was part of this greater sense of ‘being Hispanic’. We’ve talked a lot in class about how Latinos are always tied to Catholicism despite a constant decreasing number of Latinos identifying themselves in this way.

  7. When I think of home, homeland, and homeland security, intensity increases as I go to the next word. Personally, I do not feel as though I have a home; I never know how to answer that question. I don’t really know where my homeland would be because I obviously have African ancestors, but my family is from Costa Rica- neither of which I have a close relationship with. Regarding home, it helps me understand religion in the sense that religion is something personal and sacred. For example, the action of prayer is something that one only does in what one considers to be a sacred space. It provides them with a feeling of belonging and safety that allows the connection with whichever higher power they are praying to.
    Martell mentioned that Latinas feel the presence of God in silence, which was interesting because anything Latinas do causes commotion. For them to feel safe and at peace primarily in silence signifies how much they have been suppressed throughout history. For Latinas, I think they don’t feel they have a home because of the societal pressures that they consistently live with regarding gender roles and poverty. It is up to them to create a space for themselves since society is not doing it for them. If someone feels there is too much distance from where they belong, the strength in their devotion may diminish. Homeland also provides a basis for many religions. People practice the religion of their homeland and take it with them wherever they go, as seen in America with a large mixture of ethnicities and religions. Homeland could be more than one place, though. It could be where you lived most of your life or where your religion originated.
    When it comes to Homeland Security, Americans automatically think of Muslims and then arises islamophobia, which I do not support. The Islam faith is not based on violence, but after the 9/11 attacks people associate those dangers with the religion. The group al-Qaeda is referred to as an extremist Muslim group, which is simply based on their interpretation of their religion. That group should not be representative of the entire religion, whose followers live around the globe. So, when we talk about practicing the religion, I know that many Muslims in our generation try to control that terrorist narrative and make jokes about it. It’s honestly quite sad that they feel the need to do that to create new relationships. With the rise of people on social media, more are accepting toward Muslims, and they feel more open about their religion nowadays. Religion to many does not seem like a defining characteristic, but for American Muslims, it very much can be.

  8. While reading this prompt, I cannot help but note the stark contrasts between the terms- home, homeland, and Homeland Security. Home and homeland are significantly more similar or at least go hand-in-hand with one another. Home and homeland prompt me to think of comfort and a sense of warmth. Most people often associate their home and homeland with positive memories. On the other hand, Homeland Security occupies negative images in my mind, as I think of restrictive immigration policies and migrant children in cages. As we discuss these terms, we must remember that there are many people who are forced to leave their homes and homelands due to violence and the lack of economic opportunity. For many people, such as asylum-seekers, they are compelled to experience the Department of Homeland Security in what they hope is a journey to safety.

    In our discussions about these terms, I have continued to think about how religion can serve as a source of hope when you leave your homeland. My Mom comes to mind whenever I think about finding hope and strength in religion. My mother migrated from the Dominican Republic to New York City when she was 23 years old. Throughout her experience, she has overcome numerous challenges, such as not being fluent in English and providing for her family abroad. When my Mom speaks about her experience, she always says that God has provided her with strength and that her faith has permitted her to push through. In terms of legal status and language barriers, my Mom’s experiences are similar to that of many immigrant women in the Caribbean. Today, my family’s circumstances are significantly better, my Mom encourages us to place God at the forefront of our life. As a first-generation college student, I have found great strength by relying on God to help me overcome challenges.

  9. This week had me thinking of how getting to have a home is such a privilege, especially since immigrants and children of immigrants have to fight with ideas of home, security and belonging on a constant basis. Home, in a sense, is where you get to be comfortable but also where you have the most meaning and connection. For immigrants the first and sometimes most important home is the family, where you connect back to your extended family and your culture. I see home as where you learn who you are.
    Homeland is and is not a part of that. It is your origin, it shows up in how you dress, how you cook, and the things you value. Home has an aspect of community attached to it, but homeland is community. Homeland is where all the cousins are raised together and the family meets up on Sundays to go to church and spend the evening catching up. It is where all the family knowledge and secrets are. Yet for immigrants homeland is no longer home.
    Homeland security, among other things of course, is what keeps these apart. It is because of foreign and immigration policies that my mother decided to leave her family at 22 to live with my father in the United States and have me. Her choice simultaneously saved and separated my ideas of home and homeland. I will never know what it feels like to grow up in Colombia. I grew up in a 4 person household where every holiday was spent in each other’s company wondering when we would next be able to visit our loved ones. Still that sacrifice allowed my brother and I to be full, dual citizens. I have a privilege that homeland security is a threat to my family, but not to me.
    There is a displacement that homeland security and immigration policy impose on immigrants and their children. They can no longer be from one place or another and experience violence in emotional, political, and social senses. Still, immigrants find a way to exist outside of the homeland by trying to create a home. Through their patience and willpower, immigrants undergo a process of understanding a world in front of them while trying to remember and take care of the one they had to leave behind. They have to undergo the process of learning the language, the new customs, laws, and social boundaries so they never get caught off guard. This week we saw what happens when immigrants’ homes, homeland, and homeland security get intertwined. While I am sad that these three terms will never come together for me, it really broke my heart to see how Latinas and their families were prevented from the same. As a Latina, you are a pillar of the home, you make the home. And when you cross the border that responsibility is still there. That responsibility is a restless need that puts Latinas in a place to exert everything they can for the sake of their families and their homes. It makes sense then that the same religion that imposes these responsibilities on them is what they need when everything else is so foreign from the home.

  10. This week was a mixed bag for me for many different reasons that don’t entirely pertain to this week’s topics. Suffice it to say that Besançon Spencer’s piece did not resonate with me. Position reversal does not offer me hope, nor do I find inspiration in embodiments of the slave/authority dichotomy like Mary or Jesus. While I did find it interesting how a concept as terrifying as the sudden inversion of one’s place in society is such a prevalent source of comfort in Latinx communities, I was more drawn to thinking about the spaces we inhabit and create.

    Martell-Otero’s piece spoke to me. Being through time is a losing battle. I found a lot of comfort in lines like “[Time] is not ours but grace-full gifts of the divine in which we are to see God’s vision for creation unfold” (Martell-Otero 263). It places the source of anxiety and suffering on temporalities and not time itself. Time simply is, gifting without demanding, incapable of being owned, and, by extension, incapable of being wasted. Reframing temporality is already incredibly important to my lived experience and those of many other Black peoples. Time has never been linear for us. Our selves are scrambled across time and space the moment someone fixes us in their gaze. Negotiating the terms of our realization and fulfillment typically involves developing new understandings of space-time.

    This reframing also opens up different forms of spiritual embodiment that lean toward relationality and away from an emphasis on time. Life does not have to be about working towards an afterlife, preparing for the end of days, or trying to recreate the characters of peoples separated from you across vast spatiotemporal gulfs. It feels really good to just live amongst your surroundings and your peoples. Spatiality puts more faith in the body, in the moment, in the myths and memories of the community. It inspires one to “live out our vocations in holistic ways in the world” (Martell-Otero 257, emphasis mine). I always like to put ideas in the context of resistance. For me, this article hints at a form of spirituality that shies away from ideas of “the right time” (for action, for revolution, for the ends). It suggests that everything we need to live a spiritually freeing and fulfilling life is already in the where and who we are, if only we can have faith.

  11. This week’s topic really hit close to home for me because it is something I have experienced first-hand. As someone who was born in the United States and has always lived here, I have never experiences emigrating to another country and leaving my family behind. However, my mom did exactly that; she left Mexico and came to build a life in the United States and is the only person in our family to do so. I remember about ten years ago when my mom officially became a US citizen and I asked her if she truly felt like the US was her home. She answered something along the lines of “No, my entire family is in Mexico and I only speak Spanish.” One of the things she has told me she doesn’t like about the US is the lack of churches that offer mass in Spanish. For her, going to church every Sunday is not just the act of physically going to the temple and sitting there while the priest talks, but rather being able to understand what is being said. I also think one of the reasons she feels more comfortable in Mexico is because religion plays a much bigger role in people’s everyday lives than in the United States.

    As for me, I have always struggled with the questions of home and homeland. To me, my home is Douglas, Arizona. Even though I wasn’t born there, I’ve lived there as long as I can remember. However, I don’t really have an answer for homeland. Living on the US-Mexico border I felt at home because everyone was like me, but now that I live in a deeper part of the country I don’t know how to feel. I’ve had so many people ask me “How do you pronounce your last name?” and someone even told me “That makes sense, you have a little accent when you speak English,” after I told them I was Mexican. However, when I go to Mexico my family calls me gringa. So, I’ve always felt too Mexican to call the US my homeland and too American to call Mexico my homeland.

  12. Home: Even though I was born in Brazil, my first home was Italy. That is where I grew up, explored the world, developed, went to school. After that I came back to Brazil, but in a new city, and my family and I were able to create a new home. Finally, I decided to come to Emory to study, and now I consider Atlanta my home. I have reflected a lot about what Home means to me. I have concluded that to me, home is not a physical space, it’s a feeling and it is specially tied to the people surrounding me and the memories that were created there. So, my home is wherever my family and friends are, its where I feel welcomed, comforted and at peace. Its where I can reconnect myself, cherish old memories and create new ones.

    Homeland: Even though I have lived in multiple countries, my homeland is Brasil. I believe homeland isn’t about an individual perspective, but it’s a collective representation and shared experiences. Brazil has a continental size, therefore there are many cultures within the country, but that is exactly how I am built. It is where my ancestors were and that is where they were brought to have a new life. Homeland is a place where you instantly recognize yourself within the crowd. There is nothing I love more than listening to someone speaking Portuguese (Brazilian Portuguese) when I am in the U.S. That person and I have something in common, and that is our homeland. Furthermore, homeland is the place you care about, where you keep up with news, where you can criticized and wherever you go in the world, you will be the main lawyer and ambassador for that country. Homeland is where your good and bad roots are. It’s where women, especially Latinas, first listen about their bodies in comparison with other women, its where your neighbor gives you creep looks, where you live machismo and think that you are the only person paying attention to what is happening. The sentiment towards homeland varies, it goes from missing it deeply, to wanting to never come back in a matter of seconds.

  13. The idea of home (for me personally) is a space created mainly by my parents and their family that provides a micro environment closest to my native culture and religion. The idea of a home more generally is a rather localized space within which you always have a sense of belonging and acceptance as “one of us” with those around you. For this reason, I do not believe that home and a place of residence are always synonymous, since one cannot call a place their true “home” if they feel “out of place” or incongruous with the environment around them. Personally, I define my house as my home or any place that has a strong connection to my upbringing/early childhood experiences. Given that I had a strong religious Hindu upbringing, I see faith and “sacred spaces” dedicated to religious iconography as an essential aspect of what I consider to be my home.

    My homeland, the United States, has less of a role in how I practice religion and more of a role in how I understand myself and relate to those around me. However, given that what religion means to a person is shaped by their subjective views, an individual’s displacement away from their native land to their current homeland inevitably shapes their values in profound ways. The example of the shrine dedicated to Guadalupe under the backdrop of urban Chicago demonstrates how a faith can survive across borders through the establishment of sacred spaces, but adapts to fit into the “context” of people’s lives/lo cotidiano.

    Homeland security is an abstract term that primarily refers to the governmental agencies dedicated supposedly to fighting security/immigration threats from abroad. Homeland security to me, represents a deeply problematic understanding of these critical terms. The rhetoric of president Donald Trump, in particular, epitomizes how a flawed understanding of the United States as a white “homeland” is mobilized by supposedly democratic processes to establish hateful and inhumane practices to preserve the status quo of the homeland ethnically and linguistically. Homeland security is a way to further dispossess those viewed as “undesirable”

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