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La Virgen Reinvented: Political Activism, Identity, and Transnational Uses of an Icon

"La Virgen de Guadalupe is a complex figure in religion and history. She is considered to be the Mexican iteration of the Virgin Mary, known by many names in both Spanish and English. Her image is one that is well-known, particularly in Catholic Mexican communities as well as Mexican-American and Chicano[a] communities. Since Her initial appearance in 1531, Her image has undergone changes, largely throughout the 1960s to the present day. She has become significant and changed in significant ways for Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano[a], and Catholic communities within religious contexts and outside of religious contexts too. This sparked a great deal of interest in how exactly the image of La Virgen changed over time and across the Mexico-United States border as well.

In order to gain a sharpened understanding of the differences in images, interpretations and uses of La Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexico, it was crucial to go and observe the many presentations of Her image in Mexico, specifically Mexico City. Her original image is present in La Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe along with other traditionally Catholic renditions. Museums display Her image of course but She can also be found on t-shirts, jewelry, murals, and other less traditional forms of art. These observations while in Mexico City provided unique insights regarding how people in Mexico interact with her image in a social, cultural, political, and religious way in daily life rather than as some sort of unique phenomenon. The information gained from this exploration of La Virgen de Guadalupe’s image in Mexico City, Her place of origin, resulted in an enriched understanding and enhanced perspective of how La Virgen plays a role in Mexican, Mexican-American or Chicano[a] and Catholic communities and how Her role has changed drastically over the past sixty years."