Vietnamese and Latino Catholicisms: Multiethnic Religious Encounters and Sacred Space in Southern California
Mentor:Jennifer Hughes , Associate Professor of History, University of California, Riverside
This presentation examines Catholic identities within the context of Southern California where Latino Catholicism is a prominent religion. The presentation is based primarily upon ethnographic evidence, including field interviews and participant observations, related to Our Lady of La Vang Catholic Parish in Santa Ana, California. This church is located in a predominantly Latino neighborhood, but its Vietnamese parishioners are an increasing majority of the parish. My primary argument is that tensions that have emerged over the shifting demographics in Our Lady of La Vang parish reveal that the relations within multi-ethnic religious communities produce a formidable juxtaposition of multi-ethnic religious practices that subvert notions of developing a multi-ethnic religious hybridism. This is clearly shown in the practices of adoring different effigies of the Virgin Mary, primarily between Our Lady of La Vang and Our Lady of Guadalupe. As such, I explore various functions that religion plays in various communities, how cross-ethnic and cultural religious space is encountered and constructed within Our Lady of La Vang parish, and how the evidence there raises questions that might more broadly apply to religion more generally in other parts of the United States.