Skip to main content

Religious and Denominational References in Chicano Literature – a Transborder Way of Narrating Identity (pp. 133-154; DOI: 10.23692/iMex.17.9)

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?
Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Maria Wiehe

Maria Wiehe is a PhD student of Romance Literatures (Spanish) at the University of Augsburg, Germany. She is currently working on her dissertation about religiousness and spirituality in Chicano literature. With her doctoral project she focuses on the interplay of literature, religion, and culture within the field of Chicano studies and touches upon matters of cultural identity and the dialogue of theology and literature. She holds a full scholarship of the Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst. Her latest publication was a paper on the literary functions of food and eating in Manuel Vásquez Montalbán’s Los mares del sur, published in Mesa redonda: Neue Folge, Universität Augsburg.

This article understands the US-Mexican border not only as a border between nations, but as a border between denominations. Chicano literary texts show how (mostly) Mexican Catholicism and (mostly) US-Protestantism are both transcended into a third, unique religiousness that does not completely reject neither old nor new, but constructs an identity of one’s own – a transborder and transdenominational identity. Various denominational and religious references on different narrative levels serve the authors as literary means to transform the line that separates into a fruitful, identity-founding space. This article aims to add a new perspective to border discourse by approaching it through the literary analysis of religious, and mostly denominational, references. It amplifies the discourse of border and religion by tracing denominational elements in two literary cycles – José Antonio Villarreal’s unfinished tetralogy and Rudolfo A. Anaya’s New Mexico Trilogy – and by mapping their narrative functions. These denominational references are used to transcend religiousness and play a vital role in the literary development of a transborder identity.

Este artículo entiende la frontera entre México y los Estados Unidos no sólo como una frontera entre naciones sino como frontera entre confesiones. En textos literarios chicanos se puede ver que tanto el predominante catolicismo mexicano como el predominante protestantismo estadounidense transcienden a una tercera religiosidad. Este espacio de cruces religiosos no rechaza ni los elementos antiguos, ni los nuevos, sino que forma una identidad transfronteriza y transconfesional. En diferentes niveles narrativos, varias confesiones y otras referencias religiosas sirven como medio literario para transformar la línea que los separa, en un espacio fructífero y fundador de identidad. Este artículo tiene como objetivo añadir una nueva perspectiva al discurso fronterizo al abordarlo a través del análisis literario de referencias religiosas y principalmente referencias confesionales. Amplifica el discurso de frontera y de religiosidad al investigar elementos confesionales en dos ciclos literarios: la tetralogía inacabada de José Antonio Villarreal y la trilogía New Mexico Triology de Rudolfo A. Anaya. Trazando sus funciones narrativas, el artículo mostrará que estas referencias confesionales se utilizan para transcender la religiosidad y juegan un rol fundamental en el desarrollo literario de una identidad transfronteriza.