Paerregaard Article Blog Post

It is clear after reading the article that the Virgin of Carmen festival plays an incredibly important role in community identity for the Cabaneños. For Cabaneños abroad, the funding, planning, participation in, and celebration of the Virgin of Carmen festival allows them to form and strengthen their identities as part of the Cabanaconde community. For the Cabaneños in Cabanaconde, the participation in and celebration of the Virgin of Carmen festival allows them to commemorate the history and culture of their community. Large religious celebrations and rituals all tend to help strengthen a person’s identity in relation to their community, and I would argue that the Virgin of Carmen festival is no exception. Much like how a person’s participation in Easter or Christmas might help them form and strengthen their own identity and the identity of the Christian community that they are a part of, the Virgin of Carmen festival helps Cabaneños everywhere to celebrate and preserve their culture while also strengthening personal and communal identities. This is perhaps best shown through this quote: “In effect, the fiesta has become an identity emblem that migrants can draw on to express their sense of belonging and that serves as a point of reference with which Cabanenos living elsewhere distinguish themselves from migrants from other regions”.

In the article, the author argues that the rise of transnational migration has indeed changed the manner in which the festival is celebrated. Paerregaard states that “the village’s migrant population is thus gradually taking over Cabanaconde’s traditional rituals and religious life world”. Due to the fact that transnational migrants in places like the US have more connections and networks to draw from and access to more money, they have the ability to affect the entire community. When you apply this to the Virgin of Carmen festival, you can see how the migrants have changed the manner in which it is celebrated. What was once a religious ritual has now become “an event supported by an urban consumption lifestyle”. In addition, it would appear as though many of the inhabitants of the village are a bit bothered by the fact that the migrants have “taken over” the festival. Although the celebration promotes unity among Cabaneños everywhere, the rise of transnational migration has created competition between migrants and villagers.

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