TITLE: La Quinceanera: A Coming of Age Ritual in Latino Communities
SPEAKER: Norma E. Cantu
EVENT DATE: 2006/11/08
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 36 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
Norma Cantu, professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio, presented this talk as part of the Benjamin Botkin Lecture Series sponsored by the American Folklife Center.
The Quinceanera, the traditional coming-of-age celebration for Latinas, is an an elegant party on the girl's 15th birthday, highlighting God, family, friends, music, food and dance. Many questions emerge as one looks at this fascinating and complex rite of passage: what are its essential elements? What are its origins in indigenous Mexican tradition and in European tradition? What are the components that define it as a coming of age ritual? How does the performance of the feminine play out in the celebration? How do "border theory" and "mestizaje theory" apply to this particular event? In answering these and the more critical question--why would a family spend thousands of dollars to celebrate a birthday?--we can gain insight into the cultural practices of Latino communities.
Speaker Biography: Norma E. Cantu currently serves as professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the editor of a book series, "Rio Grande/Rio Bravo: Borderlands Culture and Tradition," at Texas A&M University Press and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Author of the award-winning "Canicula Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera," and co-editor of "Chicana Traditions: Continuity and Change," she has just finished a novel, "Cabanuelas" and is currently working on another novel tentatively titled "Champu," or "Hair Matters," and an ethnography of the Matachines de la Santa Cruz, a religious dance drama from Laredo, Texas.
SERIES: Benjamin Botkin Lecture Series