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Age in AmericaThe Colonial Era to the Present$
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Corinne T. Field and Nicholas L. Syrett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479870011

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479870011.001.0001

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A Chicana Third Space Feminist Reading of Chican@ Life Cycle Markers

A Chicana Third Space Feminist Reading of Chican@ Life Cycle Markers

(p.282) 13 A Chicana Third Space Feminist Reading of Chican@ Life Cycle Markers
Age in America

Norma E. Cantú

NYU Press

Mixing personal reflection and feminist theory, this chapter analyzes the broad significance of Mexican American rituals celebrating a young women’s passage into adulthood at fifteen—quinceañeras—and elderhood at fifty—cincuentañeras. Norma E. Cantú finds in these ritualized birthday celebrations a form of resistance through which Chicanas are able to occupy a transitional space, moving between life stages and cultures in ways that enable transformation. Cantú employs a Chicana Third Space Feminist approach, a mode of analysis that valorizes personal expressions developed in liminal spaces and transitory stages outside the mainstream of American culture. Through this lens, she recovers the long history of quinceañera celebrations as well as the more recent adoption of cincuentañeras. She also explains why celebrations of men’s fifteenth and fiftieth birthdays have become more popular in recent years. By analyzing how particular individuals adopt established rituals, Cantú shows how quinceañeras and cincuentañeras enable Mexican Americans to transform their self-understandings and place in their communities at age fifteen and fifty.

Keywords:   Mexican American, Chicana, rituals, fifteen, fifty, quinceañeras, cincuentañeras, feminist, birthday, culture

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