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A hunger for freedom, a wall of separation : migrant votive images Olivares, Cecilia

Abstract

Recent studies have examined the importance of the aesthetic qualities of border ex votos; nonetheless they represent much more than tradition, they are lived narratives of the dayto- day happenings during migrants' perilously journey north. This study explores the potential of popular religious art as a category to investigate diversity and dynamic representational strategies. Through border ex votos I expand the sociological study of migration depicted on border ex votos to encompass religious variables. Moreover, this research deepens the inquiry into migrants and religion through contemporary border research of which this thesis focuses on two related issues: one is that much of the religious practices in regions of Mexico from where migrants originate, in particular San Juan de los Lagos, can be traced through migrants who have brought or sent back religious and symbolic ex votos. The other issue is that the religious cartography of the borderlands (broadly and creatively defined) is largely a product of migration and migrating people. Furthermore, the extensive devotional piety of Mexican migrants includes diverse ritual and devotional practices. Therefore, I explore some possible relations that can be forged among visual piety portrayed in ex votos, movies and photographs. In addition I show how the narrative conventions of popular religion have become a fascinating subject in cinema and literature.

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