Description from Book Cover
Migrant Hearts and the Atlantic Return examines contemporary migration in the context of a Roman Catholic Church eager to both comprehend and act upon the movements of peoples. Combining extensive fieldwork with lay and religious Latin American migrants in Rome and analysis of the Catholic Church's historical desires and anxieties around conversion since the period of colonization, Napolitano sketches the dynamics of a return to a faith's putative center. Against a Eurocentric notion of Catholic identity, Napolitano shows how the Americas reorient Europe.
Napolitano examines both popular and institutional Catholicism in the celebrations of the Virgin of Guadalupe and El Senor de los Milagros, papal encyclicals, the Latin American Catholic Mission, and the order of the Legionaries of Christ. Tracing the affective contours of documented and undocumented immigrants' experiences and the Church's multiple postures toward transnational migration, she shows how different ways of being Catholic inform constructions of gender, labor, and sexuality whose fault lines intersect across contemporary Europe.
Napolitano's book is a rich ethnography of the historically fraught relationship between the Vatican and its Latin American flock. In this moment of heightened anxiety about immigration and shrinking church following in Europe, Napolitano deftly tracks the fissure between communitas and otherness that haunts European Catholicism today. Told through the lives of Latin American immigrants to Italy, this wonderful book shows us what it means to live a faith that is losing hold of its civilizational mission.
--Saba Mahmood, University of California, Berkeley
In Migrant Hearts and the Atlantic Return, Valentina Napolitano offers her readers a complex portrait of the diasporic world of trans-Atlantic Catholicism, told through the stories of particular Latin American immigrant communities in Rome. Napolitano is singularly positioned to perform the ethnographic work that underlies this study, and she has written a moving account that contributes to the growing field of the anthropology of Christianity and that will appeal to an interdisciplinary audience of anthropologists, religionists, students of migration and globalization, and women's and gender studies scholars.
--Elizabeth Castelli, Barnard College
In Rome, Mexican and Latin American nation-state memories and affective returns of religious histories are, on one hand, harvested by conservative streams of the Catholic Church producing re-narrativisations of martyrdoms and of a Church under attack. On the other hand, migrant devotional practices and modes of living in Rome engender new possibilities for a migrant Catholic presence that shapes Catholicism in new directions, parts, but also different from the Catholic Church’s Christocentric catechism toward the New Evangelization and conceptions of Catholicism based on notions of European civilization.
Chapter One: Migrant terrains in Italy and Rome
Italian migrant legislation has become increasingly restrictive while based on ius sanguinis (right of blood/birth descent), rather than ius solis (right of the soil/place of birth). This chapter reads changes in the Italian legislative system in relation to local municipal policies on migration of the two former mayors of Rome, Walter Veltroni and Gianni Alemanno. These two mayors have held two different political stands toward Roman heritage as it relates to the Catholic Church and to transnational migration.
Second Vatican Council
Chapter Two: “Culture of Life” and Migrant Pedagogies
Latin American transnational migration in Rome ignites an old conflict within the Catholic Church and a long-lasting paradox of Catholic conversion in the Americas. This chapters reads echoes of a tension between a Church that privileges a historicized approach to migration, to one that see it as potential threat to an allegedly authentic and avowedly European Catholic heritage. It explains the mobilization of concepts such as ’humanity’, ‘civilization’ and ‘culture of life’ and the church’ s attempts to educate migrants to be good apostolic agents, central to a Christo-centric mandate of the Catholic Church: the New Evangelization.
Señor de los Milagros
Second Vatican Council
Señor de los Milagros
Chapter Three: Legionaries of Christ and the Passionate Machine
This chapter explores the Atlantic return from an angle of the return of the missions and the orders of the Legionaries of Christ and the pre- and post-Vatican II Jesuits. By filling in/taking over of affective and pedagogical spaces left by the Jesuits post Vatican Second, the Legionaries have implicitly benefited from the strength of a ‘death’ and a loss of vocations within another (the Jesuit) order. The mimetic field between these two religious orders shows how the Catholic Church operates as a ‘passionate machine’.
Legionaries of Christ
Second Vatican Council
Chapter Four: Migrant Heart(s)
Through the analyses of ritual celebrations such as Latin American Mission’s pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Divino Amore (outside Rome), as well as the devotional presence of the Sacred Heart (a fifteen century devotion to the suffering of Jesus) – this chapter captures renewed struggles for the colonization of ‘new’ territories within the Catholic Church, and the emergence of counter-narratives of gender, belonging and the homey among devoted transnational migrants.
Chapter Five: The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Nexus of Affects
This chapter focuses on Mexican transnational returns of histories and the affective politics of celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe in Rome, arguing that transnational Catholic devotions contain or may exceed the affect of a nation. This chapter ethnographically explains the work of repressed and returned histories around the Guadalupe, histories that may come back sometime in symptomatic forms around issues of the nation(s) and its relation to the Catholic Church.
Virgin of Guadalupe
Chapter Six: Enwalled and En-skinned: Translocality, Intimacies, and Gendered Subjectivity
Benedict VXI understandings of transnational migration in the light of ‘civilization’, and the ‘culture of life’ erase the complexity and the gendered politics of migrant sexual and affective experience. This chapter explores these latter complexities by focusing on three differently situated groups of migrant women (in mix-marriages with Italians, women working in the care industry as badanti, and nuns) and their respective relations to walls, skins and the Italian society at large. These shows how gendered migrant processes are also potentially creative affective spaces, where national and Catholic ideals are not only broken down but are actually cut, pasted, and reassembled - on and through skins and walls.
This Epilogue charters some new terrains where the Catholic Church is heading on transnational migration with the election of Pope Francis - the first ever Jesuit and Latin American Pope and the apex of the Atlantic Return.