Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Christina Heisser, Indiana University, and Deborah Kanter, Albion College

Friday, December 9, 2011

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Room 101

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar

“ ‘I have her beautiful portrait here’: Mexican migrants, images, and devotion to the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos in the United States, 1890-1960”
Christina Heisser, Indiana University
More than seven million people visit the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos in her Basilica annually.  My paper explores how this small-town Mexican saint came to be revered across a continent, focusing on the way the devotion was transmitted.  It argues that her devotion spread rapidly in the United States because migrants in the U.S. were more mobile and better connected to consumer goods than their relatives in Mexico.  Mass-produced religious images facilitated the transmission of devotion to the Virgin of San Juan as migrants constructed new religious communities in neighborhoods and work sites across the United States.

“Making Mexican Chicago: Inside Pilsen, 1947-77
Deborah Kanter, Albion College
By the 1970s  Pilsen emerged as Chicago’s first majority Mexican neighborhood, but the shift began after World War II as the thirteen, mostly Slavic, parishes declined. In the same era, the Mexican and Mexican-American population expanded in Chicago and started moving into Pilsen. My research explores Pilsen’s transformation through the prism of its many Catholic parishes. Only haltingly would Mexican Catholics call these churches home. Eventually they asserted distinctively Mexican devotions in parish after parish, with increasing effect throughout the neighborhood, marking Pilsen as católico and Mexican.

Commentator: Timothy Matovina, University of Notre Dame 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.