For over a decade the cult of La Santa Muerte has grown rapidly in Mexico and the United States. Thousands of people--ranging from drug runners and mothers to cabdrivers, soldiers, police, and prison inmates--invoke the protection of La Santa Muerte. Devotees seek her protection through practicing popular vows, attending public rosaries and masses at street altars, and constructing and maintaining home altars.
This book examines La Santa Muerte's role in people's daily lives and explores how popular religious practices of worship and devotion developed around a figure often associated with illicit activities. She represents life with the possibility of respite but without ultimate redemption, and she speaks to the complexities of lives lived at the fringes of violence, insecurity, impunity, and economic hardship. The essays collected here move beyond the visually arresting sight of La Santa Muerte as a tattoo or figurine, suggesting that she represents a major movement in Mexico.
"La Santa Muerte in Mexico contributes a valuable analytical perspective to the ongoing scholarly conversation regarding this enigmatic figure."--Anna M. Nogar, Church History
"This anthology is a welcome addition to what Wil Pansters demonstrates is a relatively new but rapidly expanding field of inquiry: the cult of La Santa Muerte. A comprehensive introduction is followed by timely, fascinating topical essays that shed light on the cult and related topics concerning the cultural role of death in twenty-first-century Mexico."--Martin Austin Nesvig, editor of Local Religion in Colonial Mexico
List of Illustrations
Chapter One. La Santa Muerte: History, Devotion, and Societal Context
Wil G. Pansters
Chapter Two. Saints and Demons: Putting La Santa Muerte in Historical Perspective
Benjamin T. Smith
Chapter Three. Dances of Death in Latin America: Holy, Adopted, and Patrimonialized Dead
Juan Antonio Flores Martos
Chapter Four. La Santa Muerte as Urban Staging: Notes on the Images and Visibility of a Transgressive Performance
Chapter Five. Moving In and Moving Out: On Exchange and Family in the Cult of La Santa Muerte
Chapter Six. Devotion That Goes Skin Deep: Tattoos of La Santa Muerte
Judith Katia Perdigón Castañeda and Bernardo Robles Aguirre
Chapter Seven. Afterword: Interpreting La Santa Muerte