How young women's coming of age rites cement community relations and reinforce ethnic identity
Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras
Coming of Age in American Ethnic Communities
Search the full text of this book
Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez
Looking beyond the satin gowns, opera-length gloves, and sparkling tiaras that signify Filipina debutantes and Mexican quinceañeras, Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez examines the meaning of these coming-of-age rituals for immigrant American families. Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras draws parallels between these communal ceremonies, as they share a commonality in Spanish heritage and Catholicism in a highly ritualized celebration. Rodriguez analyzes these rites and festivities to explain what they reveal about the individuals, families, and communities that organize and participate in them.
Drawing on over fifty in-depth interviews with members of these fast-growing American Asian and Latino populations, Rodriguez shows how these communal celebrations of daughters have been adapted by immigrant families to assert their cultural pride and affirm their American belonging. Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras provides an intimate and compelling portrait of the various ways immigrants and their children are purposefully, strategically, and creatively employing Filipina American debutantes and Mexican American quinceañeras to simultaneously challenge and assimilate into U.S. culture and forge new understandings of what it means to be "Mexican," "Filipina," and "American."
"Rodriguez makes a significant contribution to the literature on migration, gender, and ritual with her fascinating book, Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras. While there has been analysis of Anglo-American debutante balls, Rodriguez’s study takes on gender, race, class, and the complexities of assimilation with sensitivity. Among her many fine observations are her nuanced discussions of performance of class aspiration and achievement of class mobility in this gendered ritual."
"Celebrating Debutantes provides a convincing argument about how different migration patterns, rates of assimilation, and socioeconomic statuses result in coming-of-age celebrations taking on divergent meanings for Mexican and Filipino families. Rodriguez deftly weaves Mexican and Filipino histories, experiences of and motivations for migration to America, and shows how Mexican immigrants often use quinceañeras as a way of showing social status in their ability to host elaborate events for their daughters, contrary to stereotypes about their working-class identity or fiscal irresponsibility. For Filipino immigrants, tasteful celebrations allow families a chance to demonstrate how they fit into American culture. For those interested in gender and gender stratification, this book is particularly compelling in its examination of a ritual that celebrates girls as individuals."
Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco.