Luis D. León's compelling, innovative exploration of religion in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands issues a fundamental challenge to current scholarship in the field and recharts the landscape of Chicano faith. La Llorona's Children constructs genealogies of the major traditions spanning Mexico City, East Los Angeles, and the southwestern United States: Guadalupe devotion, curanderismo, espiritualismo, and evangelical/ Pentecostal traditions. León theorizes a religious poetics that functions as an effective and subversive survival tactic akin to crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. He claims that, when examined in terms of broad categorical religious forms and intentions, these traditions are remarkably alike and resonate religious ideas and practices developed in the ancient Mesoamerican world.
León proposes what he calls a borderlands reading of La Virgen de Guadalupe as a transgressive, border-crossing goddess in her own right, a mestiza deity who displaces Jesus and God for believers on both sides of the border. His energetic discussion of curanderismo shows how this indigenous religious practice links cognition and sensation in a fresh and powerful technology of the body—one where sensual, erotic, and sexualized ways of knowing emphasize personal and communal healing. La Llorona’s Children ends with a fascinating study of the rich and complex world of Chicano/a Pentecostalism in Los Angeles, a tradition that León maintains allows Chicano men to reimagine their bodies into a unified social body through ritual performance. Throughout the narrative, the connections among sacred spaces, saints, healers, writers, ideas, and movements are woven with skill, inspiration, and insight.
Introduction: In Search of La Llorona’s Children
1. The Terror of Postcolonial History: Eternal Returns in the Borderlands
2. Virtual Virgin Nation: Mexico City as Sacred Center of Memory
3. Religious Transnationalism: A Mexican Virgin in L.A.
4. El Don: The Gift of Healing, from Mesoamerica to the Borderlands
5. Diaspora Spirits: From the Virgin City to the City of Angels
6. Born Again in East L.A., and Beyond
Conclusion: Fin de Siglo in the Borderlands
Luis D. Leon is visiting assistant professor in Ethnic Studies and Religious Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
"A new interpretive map of the borderlands as space, trope, meaning, and creative landscape inhabited and reimagined by Mexican and Mexican American peoples. Leon weaves together saints, healers, writers, movements and ideas with skill, bringing a fresh critical mind to Chicano/Latino and Religious studies."—David Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America, Harvard University
"In this sweeping and ambitious book, Leon explores Mexican and Chicano religious practices that move 'beyond' colonialism . . . ."—José David Saldivar