Sobre La Marcha: The Fiesta of Santiago Apostol in Loiza, Puerto Rico
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CitationVlassidis Burgoa, Maria Cristina. 2016. Sobre La Marcha: The Fiesta of Santiago Apostol in Loiza, Puerto Rico. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractThe annual Fiesta of Santiago Apóstol is the most significant religious festival in Loíza, Puerto Rico. This dissertation examines this religious ritual applying an indigenous methodological approach I call sobre la marcha, meaning “on the move.” Sobre la marcha places at the center the voices and the stories of the people of Loíza. Focusing on people’s every day lives, or lo cotidiano, I bring to the forefront people’s lived experiences, their individual perspectives, and their indigenous ways of being. This ethnographic approach is known as ethnographies of the particular, privileging the people’s own stories, their feelings, sufferings, contradictions, aspirations, hopes, etc.
Beginning with the lived experiences of a limited number of people who identify as Loiceños (natives of Loíza), their voices illuminate the complex movements great and small that are part of their quotidian experiences, lo cotidiano. This includes testimonies from a local artist and an Espiritista practitioner, who speak about the presence of the ancestors and the rituals that maintain a relationship between the living and the dead. The people known as Mantenedores, or keepers of the image of Santiago Apóstol, also share their stories of the miraculous apparition of Santiago Apóstol and how the Santiago came to live among the people of Loíza. Through the stories of the Mantenedores we get a glimpse of what it means to be a Mantenedor/a, their responsibilities, how the processions are organized, and how the people of Loíza express their devotion to Santiago Apóstol. Finally, I include a discussion about rescate de terrenos (land rescues) within the context of the gentrification of Loíza and the impact upon the people’s every day lives. As a coastal town, Loíza faces constant threat of indiscriminate tourism expansion. Gentrification displaces individuals and tears apart entire communities who risk losing their homes and their communally held cultural and religious rituals.
In summary, this thesis examines The Fiesta of Santiago Apóstol, Espiritismo, and rescates de terreno (land rescues) in Loíza, Puerto Rico, through the oral testimonies of a limited number of people. Applying ethnographies of the particular, these oral testimonies show lo cotidiano, the day-to-day movements by the people and their connection to the movements within the processions of the Fiesta of Santiago Apóstol, the healing rituals of Espiritismo, and the rescates de terreno (land rescues). All of these movements come together sobre la marcha, on the move, and are filled with potentiality for transformation in the face of multiple oppressions.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:27194249