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Lifeblood of the ParishMen and Catholic Devotion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn$
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Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479872244

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479872244.001.0001

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Constructing Catholic Propriety on North Eighth Street

Constructing Catholic Propriety on North Eighth Street

(p.169) 5 Constructing Catholic Propriety on North Eighth Street
Lifeblood of the Parish

Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada

NYU Press

This chapter examines how Italian Americans negotiate a diversifying Church and urban landscape and contend with sharing their saint with Haitian and Haitian American devotees of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. While the feast is a site where Catholics of different races and ethnicities share devotional space, it is also a site of intra-Catholic boundary making. Devotional celebrations are sites of religious evaluation, racializing, and territoriality, where onlookers judge who is and who is not acting as a “good Catholic” and whose devotional affinities verge on “superstition.” Public performances of devotion are where people judge, construct, and enact Catholic propriety. Through everyday talk and boundary-making practices, Italian American Catholics construct ideas of “good” American Catholic practice and label the practices of ethnic and racial others as admirable yet foreign and excessive, echoing the very same discourses that placed their ancestors outside the bounds of “good” Catholic practice.

Keywords:   Catholic practice, diversifying Church, devotion, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, boundary making, races, ethnicities, Italian American, Haitian American

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