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2014 Colloquium Abstracts

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ACHTUS Colloquium 2014 | Abstracts

June 1-4, 2014 | Wyndham San Diego Bayside Hotel | San Diego, California

‘Engendering Religious Identity: Marianismo, Catholic Role Models, and Sexuality’

Socorro Castañeda-Liles (University of Santa Clara): ‘Shame in the Name of God: An Invitation to (Re)member the Latina Body’

Mexican American Catholic theologian Virgilio Elizondo argues that the sense of shame imposed on Latin America’s conquered people by Catholicism was, and continues to be, one of the most devastating consequences of the conquest. Too often the terms “pleasure” and “shame” have been used as a means to split the body from the spirit — the forbidden (body) from the embraced (spirit). This has led Latinas to internalize distorted perceptions of their own bodies and sexual pleasure. What is more, silence around the body and human sexuality has had consequences on women’s health. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, the less a virgin woman knows about sexual pleasure and sexuality in general, the closer she is to the Christian God and, by extension, to the Virgin Mary of Nazareth. This presentation offers findings from oral histories of working-class, Mexican-origin women. It demonstrates that shame not only has a particular race and color, it is also gendered, relegating women to a life of complete or selective silence about their bodies, sex, and sexuality. The dichotomization of women’s bodies into the parts that are acceptable and extolled by the Catholic Church (i.e., womb) and those that the Church deems forbidden, yet are life-giving — pleasure (i.e., vulva) — dismembers women’s sense of wholeness. Building on the late Latin American feminist theologian, Marcella Althaus-Reid’s call to disrupt the silence that exists about sex and sexuality in mainstream theology, this paper is an invitation to Latina feminist theologians and religious studies scholars to (re)member the Latina body. I pay particular attention to messages about the body and sexuality passed on through what sociologist of religion Ana Maria Diaz-Stevens (1995) calls a “matrilineal core.” I link the life histories of the participants, working-class Mexican-origin women living in the United States, to Catholic Church teachings about decency that shame the female body in the name of God.

Wendy M. Arce (Graduate Theological Union): ‘Latina Sexuality, Religion and the Media: Old Gender Roles, New Possibilities’

This paper examines how Latina/o religion and culture are predisposed to a harmful and limiting dichotomy for Latina sexuality through the contradictions between an asexualizing religious imagery and overly sexualized popular culture. The resulting consequence is the perception (and reality) that Latinas are at risk for unwed pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections because they are ill-informed about sex or remain in communities where premarital sex acts are highly stigmatized. Although parents are talking to their daughters more about sexuality, Lorena Garcia’s research points us to the complexity of enacting safe sex and the stigma young Latinas face should they chose to be sexual. Latina/o culture holds fast to stereotypical gender roles that girls and women feel compelled to fulfill that are ultimately rooted in marianismo. Using Evelyn Steven’s term, I will analyze the dominant narrative for Latina sexuality in Latina/o religion and culture, which still reveres the image of the sexually pure woman, while also feeding us the image of the seductress in popular culture. A different source, films made largely from Latina/o filmmakers, are subverting dominant narratives and have created spaces where Latinas do not have to fit within a virgin/whore binary. Instead, Latinas are resexualized without loosing their self-worth.

Claudia H. Herrera (St. Thomas University): ‘Rethinking Lo Cotidiano through the Lenses of Catholic Latinas in their Twenties: A New Marianismo?’

Latino/a theology, so compelled to reflect on the luchas cotidianas of Latinas, is a compass for practical theology. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier notes that “practical theology requires us to read the context of our daily living,” and “to pay attention to the everyday dynamics of people’s lives.” This dialectical relationship between Latino/a systematic and practical theologies has developed through the work of Latino/a theologians who — in the words of Michelle González Maldonado — “are not merely attempting to bring forth the particular religious reality and practices of Hispanics; they are also seeking to transform the very discourse of theology. … Latino/a theology offers a way to speak of the diversity, messiness, and beauty of reality.” This paper explores the lived experiences, identities and social locations of young Latina Catholics as a way of rethinking lo cotidiano, la lucha, and Latina spirituality. Using preliminary findings from my participatory action research, I explore the lived experience of young adult Latina Catholics who attend universities in the Miami area, listening to the everyday reality of their social locations, in order to reimagine and problematize Catholic tradition as the articulation of a new Marianismo. The principal questions guiding my interviews seek insight on: (1) What it means to be a young Catholic Latina in twenty-first century America; (2) How young women’s faith experiences can inform contemporary Latino/a theology; and (3) How lo cotidiano (the lived experiences) of Latinas in their twenties help articulate a new Marianismo..

‘Queer Theory as Source & Horizon for Latin@ Catholic Religious Reflection’

Melissa Pagán (Emory University): ‘Los Indocumentad@s and Latin@ Catholicism: The Body Politics of Gender, Sexuality and Race in the Roman Catholic Tradition’

This paper analyzes the “body-politics of knowledge” of the official Church teachings on gender and sexuality. Adopting a decolonial methodology based upon the work of Walter D. Mignolo and coupling it with the framework of “coloniality of gender” constructed within the work of María Lugones, I employ a border epistemology/consciousness and contend that the politics of knowledge related to gender and sexuality espoused by the Roman Catholic hierarchy erases “resistant subjectivities” — that is, non-Western, non-heteronormative ways of being and doing in the world — rendering them indocumentad@ within the Roman Catholic tradition. Regrettably, the Latin@ Catholic community all too often participates in the process of forced fragmentation and erasure of these subjects as they remain hostile or silent towards any suggestion of the fluidity of sexuality, not recognizing that the processes of racialization that accompanied colonization was, and continues to be, necessary to the maintenance of heteronormativity. Thus I further contend that it is essential for the liberation of la comunidad that they recognize the intimate connection between racism and homophobia within the “colonial matrix of power.” In order to combat the sanctioned epistemic, physical, and sexual violence sustained by los indocumentad@s at the hands of the hierarchical church and Latin@ communities, I propose that a feminist decolonial social ethics that recognizes and affirms los indocumentados, and, most importantly, begins with the material experiences of these subjects be enacted. Such an ethic is necessarily built upon the norms of multiplicity and decolonial love; norms that, I contend, more accurately reflect the proposed liberative ideals of the Church.

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza (University of Denver-Iliff School of Theology): ‘Queering Mestizaje: Toward a MezQueerTaje Reality’

Mestizaje is a central theoretical concept for Latin@ religious reflection, shaping notions of ethno-racial identity, difference, and multiplicity in Latin@ communities. This paper undertakes a rethinking and expansion of the notions of mestizaje developed in U.S. Latino/a theology, considering its potential as a trope for a queering of theology. When we step away from racial or biological categories, in which the discourse of mestizaje paradoxically tends to stabilize and reify social identities, mestizaje also signifies a queer reality — materially queer essences without stable identities. Mestizaje is disruptive when figured as a gerund: becoming different and multiplying in its becomingness. This disruption allows for mestizaje to be analyzed from an ethico-onto-epistemological standpoint that is always becoming different as a result of mestizaje’s analytical retorcer and volverse. These two terms help illustrate and elucidate my attempts to queer mestizaje in that it twists and turns (retorcer) and it is also a process in its becoming/ness (volverse). Key to this interpretation is the discourse of in-betweeness in mestizaje when it comes to queer Latin@ identities. In a way analogous to the ways mestizaje figures racial/ethnic identities, I argue that the in-between space of mestizaje, or Nepantla, is a creatively generative space where new becoming is central. Queering mestizaje opens to recognition of a MezQueerTaje reality, a reality that every nepantler@ engages when s/he choose to become something other in the in-between space that mestizaje creates. Engaging in the creative space of in-betweeness casts a new light on issues of futurity for queer Latin@s.

Jeannette ‘Lil Milagro’ Henríquez (Graduate Theological Union): ‘Queering the ‘Crucified People’: Ignacio Ellacuría and Violence Against LGBTQIQQ Communities’

Despite recent gains made by the marriage equality movement in the United States including two large national victories (the Supreme Court rulings against California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act) and ten smaller state victories (through state recognition of the right of same-sex people to marriage), queer communities continue to face heavy violence/persecution at an individual and societal level. A recent report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows increased levels of hate-crimes against queer people, particularly people of color. Notwithstanding Pope Francis’ seminal interview on the humanity and respectful treatment of same-sex individuals, the Catholic Church has remained largely silent on the rights of LGBTQIQQ individuals. Historically understood as existing as the vanguard of social justice issues, liberation theologians have followed the example of the mainstream church by remaining voiceless on the issue of queer rights, often at the expense of the lives of those populations. Liberation theologians have been criticized for the way their limited notions of the ‘preferential option for the poor’ have silenced those who live on sexual borderlands. This presentation seeks to end that silence through a selective re-reading of one of the seminal authors on liberation theology — Ignacio Ellacuría. Using Ellacuría’s framework of the ‘crucified people,’ I seek to queer concepts of who is defined as the crucified people and who, as such, bear the weight of the often ignored social sin of homophobia. In doing so I hope to blur and expand the notion of the crucified people within Catholic liberation theology through Ellacuría’s three-fold notion of reality. In laying out the realities of queer communities as the manifestation of Christ’s crucified people en lo cotidiano, it is my hope that we can build towards a queerer understanding of a liberative future.

‘Holy Orders or Wholly Other? Gender and Authority in Catholicism’

This panel considers the engendered exclusion of women from formal ministerial roles in the Roman Catholic Church. Following an overview presentation on post-conciliar women’s activism and the Womenpriest movement, we hear from three women whose lives were steeped in the spiritualities and traditions of Roman Catholicism, but who eventually sought to fulfill their vocations to ordained ministry in other Christian denominations. This panel seeks to promote critical reflection on the historical claims of institutional Catholicism and its magisterium on the fitness of women for the Church’s ministerial function.

Theresa Yugar (Claremont Graduate University): ‘Roman Catholic Women in North America: A New Model of Ordained Ministry’

It is an exciting time for Roman Catholic woman called to the sacramental rite of priesthood. After more than thirty years of challenging the Church’s preclusion of women from ordination, with no success, women are being ordained — albeit under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Womenpriest movement, thanks to bishops in good standing who have  taken extraordinary risks to support women’s ordination. It is a sacred time in history — a Kairos moment for Catholic women who have been waiting and longing to be ordained since the early seventies. This paper surveys the Womanpriest movement in the U.S., in a larger context of Catholic women’s activism during the last thirty years. I assess (1) the movement’s response to arguments proffered by the church to justify women’s exclusion from the deaconate and/or ordained ministry; and (2) the mission, values, and visions of the Womenpriest movement, both internationally and within the United States.

Testimonios
The Rev. Altagracia Pérez (Holy Faith Episcopal Church, Inglewood, California)

The Rev. Altagracia Pérez is the rector of Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Inglewood, California, a multicultural, bilingual, inclusive community. Rev. Pérez brings her vast experience in urban and justice ministries to work with a dynamic parish that has served Inglewood for 100 years through a variety programs that seek to improve the quality of life in a struggling community. Its health promotion programs for children, youth and their families developed into the Jubilee Consortium, a non-profit organization that promotes health and wholeness for the community in four urban congregations in L.A. County/Diocese of Los Angeles. Through community organizing, fitness classes, boxing and alternatives to violence for youth, and healthy cooking classes, Holy Faith seeks to bring healing to its community. Her work in church and community has been featured in local and national media for bringing together people of different backgrounds and languages to worship and create better communities. She worked actively with Coalition LA to create a movement that won the establishment of a land trust to create parks and gardens in the communities that need them most. She has been active in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, serving on President Clinton’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS as co-chair of its Racial and Ethnic Minorities Subcommittee. Pérez served as writer and consultant for the educational resource ‘Episcopal Guide to TAPS: Teens for AIDS Prevention.’

Rosa Manríquez, IHM
Rosa G. Manríquez, IHM, is a retired Roman Catholic sister of the community of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She anticipates being ordained as a Roman Catholic deacon through the Womanpriest movement, perhaps by the fall of 2014. A third-generation Angeleño, she lives in East Los Angeles. She is a member of Our Mother of Good Counsel / St. Agatha Church, where she has served as a lector and eucharistic minister, as a CCD teacher preparing young people for confirmation, and on church’s parish council. Manríquez was educated since the first grade in the Immaculate Heart community, becoming an IHM religious 21 years ago. She serves on the community’s Invitation Committee and its Program Committee. Involved in a variety of progressive organizations and enterprises, she is on the speaker’s list of Gays and Lesbians Initiating a Dialogue for Equality (GLIDE), making presentations throughout Southern California to educate the public on the destructive dimensions of homophobia. Manríquez is vice president of the national board of Call To Action, a Roman Catholic movement seeking to advance the vision of the Second Vatican Council, particularly in the areas of social and economic justice. She also works with the national LGBTQ advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, as a trainer and lecturer.

Jennifer S. Hughes (University of California, Riverside)
Jennifer S. Hughes is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Riverside. Raised Roman Catholic, Hughes is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, serving the Latino congregation at Messiah Episcopal Church in Santa Ana. Hughes’s scholarship and teaching focuses on Latin American and Latino religions, religion and art, the role of religion in colonialism and decolonization, Christianity in the Southern Hemisphere, and immigrant religions. Professor Hughes’ first book, Biography of a Mexican Crucifix: Lived Religion and Local Faith from the Conquest to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2010), is a history of popular devotion to artistic images of the suffering Christ in Mexico. She is currently working on two new projects. The first treats the impact of mass death by epidemic disease on the shape of New World Christianity. The second explores Latino religious practice in the Metropolitan Los Angeles / Southern California region. She is co-chair of the Religion in Latin America and Caribbean Group of the American Academy of Religion. Hughes has worked as an advocate for homeless Latinos with HIV/AIDS, as a translator and advocate for Angolan refugees in South Africa, and with the liberation theology base community movement in Brazil. Dr. Hughes is the founding co-director of UC Riverside’s Institute for the Study of Immigrant Religions.

‘Chican@ / Latin@ Theory as Source & Horizon for Catholic Religious Reflection’

This panel seeks sourcings for Latino/a Catholic religious reflection in the theoretical contributions of Chicano/a social movements and intellectuals.

Laura E. Pérez (University of California, Berkeley): ‘Catholic Altarities in Chicana Art’
Laura E. Pérez is associate professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches on Chicano/a studies. Her research focuses on post-1960s U.S. Latina/o literary, visual, and performance arts; U.S. women of color / third world feminist, queer, and decolonial thought; art and spirituality; racialization in the cultural politics of the art world; and cultural studies. Pérez is the author of Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities (Duke University Press, 2007). She co-curated, with Delilah Montoya, the multimedia exhibition Chicana Badgirls: Las Hociconas at 516 ARTS gallery in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from January-March of 2009.

Luis León (University of Denver): ‘Disrupting Myths of Machismo in Queer Latino Cinema’
Luis León is associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver. He specializes in religions of the Américas, sexualities, postcolonial criticism, and Latina/o Studies, focusing on the intersections of religion, race, class, gender, social inequality, and sexuality. He is the author of La Llorona’s Children: Religion, Life, and Death in the United States-Mexican Borderlands (University of California Press, 2004), and co-editor, with Gary Laderman, of the Encyclopedia of Religion and American Cultures (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003). He is currently writing a book entitled The Myth of Cesar Chavez: Crossing the New Global Spiritual Line, also for the University of California Press. León will present insights from his critical study of machismo, which focuses on the intersections of spirituality and eroticism among Latino men. The book version of this project is tentatively entitled American Machos: Religious Erotics among Latino Men. He is also co-editing (with Laura E. Perez) a collection of essays, entitled De-Colonizing Spirituality and Sexuality.

Pedro Javier Di Pietro (University of California, Berkeley): ‘‘Queerness and Subalternity: Indigenous / Mestizo Vernacular Spiritualities in the U.S.’

Pedro Javier Di Pietro is Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Ethnic Studies Department (2011-2013) at the University of California, Berkeley. He obtained his Ph.D. in the Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture Program at Binghamton University (SUNY). His work focuses on decolonial ways of thinking and producing difference. To study styles of being permeated by indigenous cosmologies, Di Pietro studies the production of queer spaces in the Andes and their diasporic life throughout the Americas. His postdoctoral research is two-fold. On the one hand, he examines the geopolitical linkages between subaltern queerness from indigenous/mestizo backgrounds and vernacular spirituality among Latino/as in the U.S. On the other, he weaves regional epistemologies of sex/gender/desire with a decolonial critique of the human / non-human distinction and its ethico-political aftermath across ethnic, gender, and queer studies. Di Pietro is currently co-editing a volume on the work of Latina Philosopher María Lugones.

‘The Sexual Nepantla of the Borderlands’

This testimonial session gives audience to the voices of sexually targeted migrants: persons afflicted with HIV/AIDS, refugees persecuted for their sexual identities, transgender border-crossers, and sex workers who relocate to the United States.

Ricardo Gallego (moderator)
Ricardo Gallego is a prevention case manager at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. The Center’s mission is to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV communities by providing activities, programs and services that create community; empower community members; provide essential resources; advocate for civil and human rights; and embrace, promote and support our cultural diversity. Gallego’s work involves supporting Latin American / Latin@ LGBT migrants, particularly those who cross the border for a range of motives relating to their sexual identities.

‘Enlaces’

This session, traditionally reserved for the close of each colloquium, ties together (enlazar) themes, disputes, and other points discussed or omitted. This year’s weaver of our enlaces was the first in the Latin@ / Catholic theological community to present the question of sexuality as a critical terra incognita — an undiscovered country — in our reflections and proceedings.

James B. Nickoloff (Barry University): ‘Redressing the “Queer Omission”: Liberating Latino/a Reflections on Sexuality’

James B. Nickoloff is Associate Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he taught Catholic systematic theology from 1989 to 2009. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Theology at Barry University and at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida. He has lived and worked for extended periods outside the United States, including three years in Andong, Korea, as a Peace Corps Volunteer; two years in Kingston, Jamaica as a Jesuit; and two years in Lima, Peru, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation. In recent years he has taught at Boston College, Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Santa Clara University, and the Jesuit Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. He is the editor of Gustavo Gutiérrez: Essential Writings (1996), the editor of In, Out, and About on the Hill: Lesbian and Gay Alums Reflect on Life at Holy Cross (2010), and the co-editor with Orlando Espín of An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies (2007). He has also published analytical essays on ecclesiology, the theological vision of Gutiérrez, and the various theologies of liberation.