The Virgin of Guadalupe

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI:
The Virgin of Guadalupe

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This chapter attempts to unravel the different strands and levels of motivation and interest that were historically brought together into a powerful collective representation. It represents an effort to analyze a national master symbol as a manifold of heterogeneous referents drawn from various traditions of ethnicity, class, and region and combined into a multifunctional unity through intersecting signs. A symbol is encountered that seems to enshrine the major hopes and aspirations of an entire society. The Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint, represents such a master symbol. Cultural forms provide the cultural idiom of behavior and ideal representations through which different groups in a society can pursue and manipulate their different fates within a coordinated framework. The Guadalupe symbol links together family, politics, and religion; colonial past and independent present; Indian and Mexican. It reflects the salient social relationships of Mexican life and embodies the emotions they generate.

Keywords: Virgin of Guadalupe; social relationships; national master symbol; cultural forms; Mexican life

Chapter.  3214 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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