Garcia Organizes Session on Religion and Diasporas

Posted on 12/5/2016 5:41:21 PM

Victor Garcia, director of MARTI-CBH and distinguished university professor in the Department of Anthropology, and colleagues organized and presented at the American Anthropological Association’s session on “The Migration of Faith and the Faith of Migration.” The session addressed current research on religion and spirituality as practiced by different diaspora populations in the United States. 

Garcia also presented a research paper, “Juramentos, Religion, and the Latino Immigrant SUDs Help-Seeking Model”. The juramento is a ritualized pledge made to a saint for divine intervention in dealing with a drinking or drug problem. Mexican immigrants first introduced this Catholic practice, with origins in Mexico, to parishes in the U.S. southwest decades ago, and today they continue to do the same in new immigration destinations in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The inclusion of this and other religious practices of Mexican immigrants, Garcia argues, will help us to better understand the social agency of immigrants in regards to treatment for SUDs, in particular how they turn to their culture and beliefs to achieve sobriety and recovery.

Garcia and his colleague, Milton Ricardo Antonio Machuca-Galvez, anthropologist and assistant professor and coordinator of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program at Swarthmore College, organized the session around five presentations. The presentations were:

  • Finding Faith in Migration Narratives & Migrants of Faith: Re-Indigenizing Diets of Afro-Diasporic Religious Migrants, by Diana Burnett, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
  • “HIV Is My Blessing”: Sickness As Salvation Among Haitians Living with HIV in South Florida, by Chelsea Cormier McSwiggin, Graduate Student in Anthropology, Brown University
  • Juramentos, Religion, and the Latino Immigrant SUDs Help-Seeking Model by Victor Garcia, Professor in Anthropology and Director of MARTI Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Traditions and Transformations: Latinxs and the Roman Catholic Church in South Philadelphia, by Milton Ricardo Antonio Machuca-Galvez, Assistant Professor and Coordinator in Latin American and Latino Studies, Swarthmore College
  • Islam at the Mall: Religion and Social Space in the Somali Diaspora, by Allison B Taylor, Research Associate in Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Boston

The discussant of the session was Kristin Norget (McGill University). She is an expert on the indigenous theology and the influence of media technology in the institutional Catholic Church. She mainly focuses in Mexico and Peru where her research project is still ongoing which uses theoretical frameworks to relate to her focus areas. Two of her publications are Days of Death, Days of Life: Ritual in the Popular Culture of Oaxaca and Between a Cross and a Hard Place: Practicing Catholic Indigenous Theology in Mexico. Her most recent publication will come out next year, titled The Anthropology of Catholicism: A Reader.