Sergio González, University of Wisconsin; Felipe Hinojosa, Texas A&M University | Newberry

Sergio González, University of Wisconsin; Felipe Hinojosa, Texas A&M University

Friday, April 10, 2015

3pm - 5pm

B-84

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar

“’Juntos En El Nombre De Dios’: Milwaukee’s Mexican Mission Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 1924-1929”
Sergio González, University of Wisconsin

This paper focuses on the interethnic collaboration and cross-border connections in the creation of a Catholic Mexican mission chapel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the late 1920s. Mexican and American Catholics alike fashioned the chapel as an international space to respond to the repression of the Catholic Church in Mexico during the Cristero War. Catholic clergy and laity connected the preservation of religious liberty abroad with the growth of Milwaukee’s Mexican Catholic congregation, emphasizing the ties of Catholic fellowship that connected all believers across national boundaries. The case of Milwaukee’s Mexican Catholic community offers a study in shared religiosity, cross-ethnic community cooperation, and religious transnationalism. This study reorients our understanding of white-Mexican relations in the first decades of the twentieth century, presenting a more nuanced understanding of how these two communities coexisted, interacted and, at times, even collaborated.

“House of Lords: Latino Radicals, Church Take-Overs, and the Fight for Urban Space, 1968-1972”
Felipe Hinojosa, Texas A&M University

Between 1968 and 1972 a religious awakening took hold of American churches. But this was not a spiritual reformation or even a Holy Spirit-infused revival. This awakening was about occupation, breakfast programs, candlelight vigils, and the clash between the cultural nationalism of Chicana/o and Puerto Rican radicals and the politics of mainline Protestant churches. From Chicago to New York to Houston, the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) and the Puerto Rican Young Lords took over Protestant churches and occupied these sacred spaces for two to three weeks at a time. These church takeovers were part of a larger movement that placed the “sacred spaces” of the church across major urban areas on high alert. More than random acts of protest, these clashes signaled a larger shift in the trajectory of Latino religious politics in the United States and resituated the church as a site of struggle. Locating resistance within the space of the church reveals the multiple expressions, narratives, and experiences that made churches both contested and sacred spaces during the civil rights era.

In this essay, I argue that the study of religion, both historical and theological, can pave the way for understanding the multiple formulations and expressions of Chicana/o and Latina/o cultural nationalisms during the civil rights era. Where previous studies cited cultural nationalism as the main culprit for religion’s curious absence in much of Chicana/o and Latina/o history, these church takeovers and demonstrations force us to reconsider this claim. As I show in this essay, resistance to these sacred spaces offers generative possibilities to rethink and resituate Chicana/o and Puerto Rican movements within a comparative Latina/o civil rights framework that acknowledges common struggles across space, place, and culture.

Respondent: Kevin Schultz, University of Illinois at Chicago

Cost and Registration Information 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, email the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.