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
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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."
Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco.