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The folk art inspired by Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico and around the world, including the American Southwest, powerfully communicates the cultural traditions of this joyous holiday. As a companion volume to the authors' Day of the Dead, this book focuses on the artistic imagery of Day of the Dead, including the skulls, skeletons, and the iconic figure of Catrina, as seen in various pieces of market art, community art and contemporary art. The work and influence of important Mexican folk artists, such as Jose Guadalupe Posada and Diego Rivera, are represented and discussed.
Honoring relatives by tending graves, building altars, and cooking festive meals has been an honored tradition among Latin Americans for centuries. The tribute, "el Dia de los Muertos," has enjoyed renewed popularity since the 1970s when Latino activists and artists in the United States began expanding "Day of the Dead" north of the border with celebrations of performance art, Aztec danza, art exhibits, and other public expressions. Focusing on the power of ritual to serve as a communication medium, Regina M. Marchi combines a mix of ethnography, historical research, oral history, and critical cultural analysis to explore the manifold and unexpected transformations that occur when the tradition is embraced by the mainstream. A testament to the complex nature of ethnic identity, Day of the Dead in the USA provides insight into the power of ritual to create community, transmit oppositional messages, and advance educational, political, and economic goals.
Kristin Norget explores the practice and meanings of death rituals in poor urban neighborhoods on the outskirts of the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca. Drawing on her extensive fieldwork in Oaxaca City, Norget provides vivid descriptions of the Day of the Dead and other popular religious practices. She analyzes how the rites and beliefs associated with death shape and reflect poor Oaxacans' values and social identity. Norget also considers the intimate relationship that is perceived to exist between the living and the dead in Oaxacan popular culture. She argues that popular death rituals, which lie largely outside the sanctioned practices of the Catholic Church, establish and reinforce an ethical view of the world in which the dead remain with the living and in which the poor (as opposed to the privileged classes) do right by one another and their dead. For poor Oaxacans, these rituals affirm a set of social beliefs and practices, based on fairness, egalitarianism, and inclusiveness.