Traveling Virgins/Vírgenes Viajeras

Chair: Alysha Galvez (New York University)

is a working group composed of scholars, artists and activists from throughout the Americas. Questions which will launch our discussions include: How do religious practices travel across borders? What happens when a figure of devotion such as the Virgin Mary in one of her many local manifestations replicates herself to accompany devotees from a location as they migrate transnationally? At the March 2006 Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, some of the pioneers of the study of transnationalism asked whether it is necessary now for scholars to move beyond examinations of remittances, global capital flows and assimilation, and to develop “una economía política del amor” (a political economy of love), or an “economics of nostalgia.” Many of the participants in this working group have been exploring the intersection of migration and devotion as manifest in art, activism and performative remappings. The Virgin Mary, while not the only devotion that travels with transnational migrants, is an important one. While for the Catholic Church there is only one Mary, for her devotees, the specificities of her apparitions and manifestations in highly localized settings are central to their faith in her. Further, while many transnational migrants are willing or obliged to leave much of their past lives behind, the Virgin Mary often accompanies them wherever they go, and devotional practices are constantly reimagined in diasporic spaces throughout the Americas.  Please note: this working group will launch online in January 07, and the Encuentro in June will be our culminating activity. If you are interested in participating, please let us know right away.