The Saints of Santa Ana: Faith and Ethnicity in a Mexican Majority City

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Catholicism has long been the dominant religion among ethnic Mexicans in the U.S. Recent shifts, however, have challenged the traditional association between Mexican ethnicity and Catholicism. Evangelical Protestantism has emerged as a notable alternative of ethnic identity expression for ethnic Mexicans.

This book takes readers into the thriving Mexican-majority neighborhoods of Santa Ana, California, a city once dubbed the hardest place to live in the U.S. There, Jonathan E. Calvillo explores how religious practices permeate the fabric of everyday social interactions for Mexican immigrants. How does faith shape these immigrants' sense of ethnic identity?

To answer this question, The Saints of Santa Ana compares the experiences of Catholic and Evangelical Mexican immigrants-the two largest religious groupings in the city. Drawing on five years of participant observation and in-depth interviews, this book argues that religious affiliations set Catholics and Evangelicals along diverging trajectories with regard to ethnic identity. In particular, Calvillo argues, Catholics and Evangelicals have differing perspectives on collective memory and ethnic community. The Saints of Santa Ana offers a rich portrait of a fascinating American community.

Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
November 13, 2020

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About the Author

Jonathan E. Calvillo is Assistant Professor of Sociology of Religion at Boston University School of Theology. A son of Mexican immigrants, born and raised in Southern California, he holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Irvine. His scholarship centers on the sociology of religion, race and ethnicity, and immigration, especially within Latinx communities.