Dr. Andrew Chestnut has a very important reflection on the recent – and inaugural – academic conference on Santa Muerte. I, too, hope to have more home-grown Mexican-American and Mexican religious perspectives from anthropology, religious studies, etc. The secular, economic, and sociological contributions are fair and clearly helpful, but not enough to understand the phenomenon of Santa Muerte. It takes a field that is willing to wrestle with the religious imagination.
Despite the fact that over 90% of Santa Muerte devotees live in Mexico and the U.S., the first ever academic conference http://www.centroestudiosmexicanos.nl/2014.html dedicated exclusively to the skeleton saint was held in Europe, at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, on 11/21/14. Europeans have taken a particular interest in the growth of devotion to Saint Death partly because of the historical link to their own Grim Reaper or Reapress (la Parca) in the case of Spain. Reflecting the increasing globalization of the Americas’ fastest growing new religious movement, the scholars presenting on Santa Muerte hailed from many different countries, including Mexico, the U.S., Germany, Denmark, Spain and the UK.
In accord with the overarching theme of my book, Devoted to Death http://www.amazon.com/Devoted-Death-Santa-Muerte-Skeleton/dp/0199764654 I spoke to the international audience of the multifaceted identity of Saint Death and of some of the latest trends, such as her growth beyond Mexico and Mexican…
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