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From the Saints to the State. Modes of Intimate Devotion to Saintly Images in Oaxaca, Mexico

Lamrani Maria, Myriam; (2018) From the Saints to the State. Modes of Intimate Devotion to Saintly Images in Oaxaca, Mexico. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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This thesis investigates how intimacy is instantiated and defined in the context of popular Catholic devotion to images of the saints in Oaxaca, Southern Mexico. Taking the image – especially that of la Santa Muerte – as an ethnographic lens, it locates the intimate within the devotee’s close interactions with material and oneiric manifestations of the saints as they are replicated and transformed across various ambits of relationships, scaling all the way up to the post-revolutionary Mexican nation. In the process, image and intimacy entwine, becoming in turn analytical concepts as well as objects of enquiry and the framework of this ethnography. A contribution to the nascent field of the anthropology of Catholicism, which tends to focus on questions of syncretism, gender, materiality, and mediation, this study uses the multiscalar framework to open up a new line of research into the ways in which saintly images are constituted by and constitute the intimate for the devotee; ultimately it also demonstrates the inclusion of the political in devotion. To develop this main argument the study proceeds in two interconnected steps. The first conceptualises the polysemic object of the saintly image observed in the context of the sensorial and intimate praxis of devotion. The idea advanced here is that the image is intrinsically oscillatory, constantly reconfiguring the relationship between divine immanence and transcendence but also between what the image is and what it means. The second step is to show that this oscillation facilitates the image’s reverberation across the Mexican social fabric, thus challenging the idea that intimacy is predicated on the division between the public and the private spheres. This thesis ultimately argues that images are not only metonymies of the saints but also of devotees’ modes of relating to people and embracing and contesting the nation’s larger socio-political dynamics.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: From the Saints to the State. Modes of Intimate Devotion to Saintly Images in Oaxaca, Mexico
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2018. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064362
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