Paerregaard Article Response

Cabanaconde, the location where the Virgin of Carmen fiesta is celebrated, is an important piece of identity for not only the Cabeneños who reside in the village, but also for the migrants who have sought another life in the United States. The author, Karsten Paerregaard mainly explores the effect on identity for the migrants who do not currently reside in their native land and the social and cultural implications that have resulted. The Virgin of Carmen festival is organized by a devoto; Cristina is the particular devoto who is mentioned in the article that organized the 2005 fiesta. The author mentions that oftentimes the devoto is a migrant who is well-established in the U.S., however a myriad a sponsors also play an important role in the economic aspect of the event. The fact that the organizer is a migrant is important to note. The fiesta is a “showcase for migrants’ loyalty to their native village” and demonstrates that they still have a good connection with their place of origin (58). It gives migrants a sense of belonging, but is also used as a means to show that the organizer has been successful as an immigrant in the United States. As for community identity, the festival is centered on religion and spirituality where the Virgin of Carmen is their protector. This is notion that the community is united around. In fact, this is probably the most significant reason for why the devoto chooses to organize the event. Cristina states that she was diagnosed with cancer, however with her belief in the Virgin of Carmen and statement that she would organize a fiesta, she almost fully recovered. Other devotos experienced similar miracles.

A divisive result of translational migration that has changed the significance of the event for the larger community is the sense of social divide that exists among the migrants and native villagers. The author argues, “The village’s migrant population is thus gradually taking over Cabanaconde’s traditional rituals and religious life world, which has become an arena of migrant competition and growing mistrust and tension between migrants and villagers” (59). A transformation is occurring in which the event is converting from a rural religious celebration to an urban and globalized event. For the 2005 fiesta, Cristina and her networks spent nearly USD$100,000. Through this modernization and globalization, Cristina and other devotos are trying to portray themselves as important people that have contributed greatly to their village and as people who exert significant economic and social influence of their migrant networks. Devotos are essentially using their platform as an organizer of the event to fortify their role in their support networks. As a result, the event is losing its spiritual aspect as it becomes increasingly globalized by migrant devotos.

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