Document Type

Honors Project On-Campus Access Only


This honors project is based upon ethnographic research conducted with Mexican Catholic migrant women living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Q’ero indigenous migrants living in Cusco, Peru. I explore the role of these two communities’ spiritual practices and traditions in defining and reinforcing their sense of identity, beginning a discussion of religion’s role in alleviating the difficulties of migration and placing meaning in that experience. I aim to communicate these migrants' stories as they shared them with me originally, emphasizing the centrality of their spirituality and worldview in defining their sense of identity apart from that of greater society. I suggest that migrants have a particular need for a sense of belonging in the midst of cultural change, and I emphasize that their experience of spirituality relies more upon the fleshiness and earthiness of this world. In their rituals, these migrants draw upon an experience of the sacred manifest through performance, discipline, and practice, more so than through belief, faith, or intellectualism.

Above all, this project centers around the stories we tell in our lives – not as scholars, but as human beings. It stems from an attempt to understand the existential challenges which define our lives, using the experience of migration as a site from which we might begin that journey. It is an opportunity to interrogate how our lives are marked not only by the difficulties we experience, but also by the ways we choose to respond to these challenges. As a religious individual myself, I have long wondered what allows us to remain hopeful in the midst of existential change and challenge. For me, this project has been a path through which I have begun to understand the way these existential changes define and re-define our livelihoods and our identities.



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