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Sept 24: Keeping America Pure: The State, the Church, & the Migrant Body



keeping america pureKeeping America Pure: The State, the Church, & the Migrant Body

a lecture by Lois Lorentzen

September 24, Thursday
6 to 8 pm

Lois Lorentzen, Theology & Religious Studies and the Center for Latino/a Studies in the Americas, University of San Francisco

The U.S./Mexico border is the most militarized border in the world between two “friendly countries.” This unofficial war zone marks the U.S. government’s desire to keep the undocumented out. Along the same border, religious groups help migrants who have been deported or are in transit. They provide shelter, food, clothing, sturdy boots for desert crossings, phone calls home, counseling, and medical care – to most undocumented migrants, that is. When it comes to transgender sex workers and their undocumented migrant bodies, Church and State seem to be in agreement about the need for purity and good order. Faced with this twinned opposition, many undocumented migrants, and especially LGBTQ migrants, turn to “border” saints to help them on their way: the patron saint of Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe, certainly; but “rogue” saints not approved by the Catholic Church also travel with migrants: Jesus Malverde, San Toribio Romo, Santa Muerte. Based on research with deported migrants at the Nogales, AZ/Nogales, Mexico border and with transgender sex workers in San Francisco, this talk analyses the way multiple borders – of nation, sex/gender, and “deviant” saints – are being contested by church, state, and undocumented migrants.

Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor

Co-sponsored by the NYU the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics and the Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality, with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation.


This event is free & open to the public. Venue is wheelchair-accessible.

For more information about this event, contact the Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics at 212-998-1631.

Facebook event page here.

Photo: Jerry Berndt


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