Religion, Gendered Bodies and Social Roles: An Empirical Study

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Carlo NARDELLA, University of Milano, Italy
The paper presents the results of an empirical research, carried out through participant observation, on a religious procession, known as Santacruzan, celebrated by the Filipino Catholic community. The procession, which evokes the story of the discovery of Christ’s cross (Santa Cruz), has a huge following in the Philippines and in many other Filipino migrants’ countries of destination.
Wherever it is celebrated, the Santacruzan implies the processional transfer of a statue of the Virgin Mary between two churches of the same town, along with statues of saints and Biblical characters, mostly women, as well as Christian virtues embodied by Filipino young girls accompanied by boys of the same age.
The analysis of the ethnographic material gathered over several years during the course of the Santacruzan celebrated in Padua, Italy—where a large Filipino community lives—identifies the structure and dynamic of the religious representation and then focuses on the individuals who incorporate such representation and the system of social relations that ties them together.
The primary role of the women in organizing and managing the celebration, the special recognition attributed to the girls who take part in the procession, the ritual performances of these girls in showy dresses next to boys who demonstrate their masculinity by showing off their virility are some of the factors that contribute to shift the ritual from a religious domain to a secular domain where the intersection of gender, ethnicity and class plays a key role in legitimizing and reproducing identities and social roles among the members of the Filipino community.