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Shared Visions in Shared Space: Latino and Euro-American Identity Transformation at St. Regis Catholic Church

Givens, David L (2011) Shared Visions in Shared Space: Latino and Euro-American Identity Transformation at St. Regis Catholic Church. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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SHARED VISIONS IN SHARED SPACE: LATINO AND EURO-AMERICAN IDENTITY TRANSFORMATION AT ST. REGIS CATHOLIC CHURCHDavid Givens, MAUniversity of Pittsburgh, 2010Throughout the history of the United States, the religious beliefs, traditions, and organizations of immigrant groups have often played important roles in establishing and redefining personal, interpersonal, and cultural identities. In contemporary society, a particularly relevant example of how religion influences processes of identity transformation can be seen within Latino communities in America. As Latinos now make up one third of all Catholics in America (Stevens-Arroyo 2008, 59), American Catholics of all racial and ethnic backgrounds increasingly find themselves confronted with what it means to be Catholic in relation to both religious and ethnic identity.This is the situation confronting church leaders at St. Regis Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Similar to many other parishes in the United States, St. Regis faces the difficult task of serving several distinct ethnic groups within the congregation - in this case, predominantly older Italian-American parishioners and parishioners of Central and South American descent - with unique religious heritages and expectations. Interacting in this shared religious space, however, has caused subtle but significant changes in parishioners' perceptions of the church community and their place within it. The experiences and perceptions of Latino and non-Latino Catholics in Pittsburgh suggest that sociological forces other than cultural retention or assimilation may be possible within parishes comprised of multiple ethnic groups. I demonstrate that the current, predominating model of cultural retention is not an accurate description of the internal social dynamics and cultural transformation that is occurring at St. Regis; the cultural retention model cannot accommodate parishioners' inclusion and expansion of diverse national holidays, the creative reimagining of traditions and festival Masses, or a pervasive sense of confusion surrounding formerly stable community linguistic identifiers and stereotypes. I offer the concept of localized transculturation as an alternative lens through which to view these cultural negotiations, and I support this argument by highlighting the St. Regis community's interwoven use of three languages, the incorporation of culturally different foods at community meals, and similar descriptions of community and a sense of belonging articulated by wide cross-sections of the congregation. This paper concludes by addressing possible theoretical and methodological challenges to these conclusions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Givens, David
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKane, Paulapmk@pitt.eduPMK
Committee MemberOrbach, Alexorbach@pitt.eduORBACH
Committee MemberChilson, Clarkchilson@pitt.eduCHILSON
Date: 27 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 December 2010
Approval Date: 27 January 2011
Submission Date: 3 December 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Religious Studies
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: contemporary American religion; cultural retention; ethnography; transculturation
Other ID:, etd-12032010-142053
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:07
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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