Communing with the Dead: Spiritual and Cultural Healing in Chicano/a Communities

Lara Medina

in Religion and Healing in America

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167962
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850150 | DOI:
Communing with the Dead: Spiritual and Cultural Healing in Chicano/a Communities

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This chapter explores Días de los Muertos (Days of the Dead) as celebrated in the heart of East Los Angeles during 1998 at the internationally recognized Chicano community art center, Self Help Graphics. As a case study of how one Chicano community annually celebrates, it offers insight into the process that numerous Chicano communities engage in as they honor their dead. The healing aspects of the tradition receive emphasis, as does its political significance for a population committed to the task of self-determination. In ritual and artistic expressions of Chicano spirituality, the political cannot be separated from the spiritual. This chapter argues that for Chicanos, a key to healing from the trauma of spiritual and physical colonization is the claiming of ancestral indigenous epistemology that values interdependency between the living and the dead, between living communities and ancient ones.

Keywords: Los Angeles; Chicanos; colonization; healing; dead; Días de los Muertos; Self Help Graphics; art; spirituality

Chapter.  3950 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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