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Department of Social Anthropology


Dr Alanna Cant (Univesity of Reading)

San Jacinto or San José? Material Historicity in the Mis/Recognition of a Catholic Saint in Mexico

In this talk, I investigate how people understand and experience the past through religious objects, and how their different perspectives about the past affect their experiences today. Based on ethnographic research in Santa Cruz Mixtepec, Mexico, I argue that a local debate about the identity of a historic statue of a saint reveals important elements of contemporary Roman Catholic material religion, and religious materiality more broadly. I further argue that current analytical approaches that consider the pasts of objects solely through the biographical approach are insufficient to fully comprehend the ways that different pasts are conjured and interact through material objects. To more fully account for such processes, I develop the concept of “material historicity,” which provides a framework that will allow scholars to understand how objects and their qualities provoke and enable creative and interpretive engagements with the past, and how these engagements impinge upon one another in the present.


To find the venue please follow this map:,0.119533,17

Friday, 11 November, 2022 - 16:15 to 18:00
Event location: 
Lecture Theatre A, Arts School