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."
"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."
"Fun, fresh, and fast paced, Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez’s Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras is theoretically engaged, research-based, and public-minded sociology.... numerous well-told anecdotes and revealing interview excerpts.... The book’s comparative focus, attentiveness to politics and power within and across communities, and deep respect for its research subjects make this a model text for undergraduate courses on immigration; race, gender and ethnicity; and Asian American studies and Latino and Latina studies."
"Rodriguez makes a strong case for the quince as a source of building, maintaining, and activating key social networks.... Those with little personal experience in cultural rites of passage may underestimate the power and status associated with such rituals. This book offers a chance to re-examine their value, and it gives real-life insight.... This book is an invitation to learn about these special cultural customs."
Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco.