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El Dia de los Muertos American-style: Communicating with the Living
Unformatted Document Text:  13 Recent Examples: Thompson argued that the moral economy exposes “confrontations in the market place over access (or entitlement) to necessities.” 42 Some of the most poignant Day of the Dead rituals to stir moral reflection over unfair access to necessities have been organized by the families of teens lost to violence, alcohol, drugs and other ills besetting many inner city communities. In 1998, a Day of the Dead candlelight vigil attended by over 1,000 people in Santa Monica, California protested the rising number of gang-related deaths in Los Angeles. Organized by parishioners from St. Anne’s Church, the vigil included photos and shrines honoring slain gang members. It was followed by a weekend of lengthy negotiations that resulted in the signing of a truce between warring Culver City and Santa Monica gangs. 43 With calls to “create jobs, increase educational opportunities and end a pattern of social neglect that feeds a violent gang lifestyle,” 44 community residents employed traditional rituals to support moral claims about their entitlement to educational and employment opportunities, as well as about the obligations of government towards tax paying, rights-bearing citizens. Similarly, a community altar dedicated to teens lost to drugs and suicide 45 was erected in 2000 at the Sherman Heights Community Center in San Diego. 46 The altar contained photos of the teens, their personal belongings (hair clips, a folded T-shirt, a baseball cap), their favorite foods (Pepsi, Reese’s Cups and Doritos) and handwritten notes from friends and family telling the deceased teens how much they were missed and loved. Next to the altar were informational flyers about resources for depressed and drug- 42 Thompson, op. cit, p. 337. 43 John L. Mitchell, “1000 Hold Vigil Against Violence in Santa Monica,” The Los Angeles Times, November 3, 1998, Metro, part B, p. 1. 44 Mitchell, Ibid.. 45 In an interesting example of how traditions change as they cross borders, people who commit suicide are not honored with Day of the Dead altars in Latin America. 46 Personal observation, Sherman Heights Community Center, San Diego, October 26, 2000.

Authors: Marchi, Regina Miriam.
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13
Recent Examples:
Thompson argued that the moral economy exposes “confrontations in the market place
over access (or entitlement) to necessities.”
42
Some of the most poignant Day of the Dead rituals
to stir moral reflection over unfair access to necessities have been organized by the families of
teens lost to violence, alcohol, drugs and other ills besetting many inner city communities. In
1998, a Day of the Dead candlelight vigil attended by over 1,000 people in Santa Monica,
California protested the rising number of gang-related deaths in Los Angeles. Organized by
parishioners from St. Anne’s Church, the vigil included photos and shrines honoring slain gang
members. It was followed by a weekend of lengthy negotiations that resulted in the signing of a
truce between warring Culver City and Santa Monica gangs.
43
With calls to “create jobs,
increase educational opportunities and end a pattern of social neglect that feeds a violent gang
lifestyle,”
44
community residents employed traditional rituals to support moral claims about their
entitlement to educational and employment opportunities, as well as about the obligations of
government towards tax paying, rights-bearing citizens. Similarly, a community altar dedicated
to teens lost to drugs and suicide
45
was erected in 2000 at the Sherman Heights Community
Center in San Diego.
46
The altar contained photos of the teens, their personal belongings (hair
clips, a folded T-shirt, a baseball cap), their favorite foods (Pepsi, Reese’s Cups and Doritos) and
handwritten notes from friends and family telling the deceased teens how much they were missed
and loved. Next to the altar were informational flyers about resources for depressed and drug-
42
Thompson, op. cit, p. 337.
43
John L. Mitchell, “1000 Hold Vigil Against Violence in Santa Monica,” The Los Angeles Times, November 3,
1998, Metro, part B, p. 1.
44
Mitchell, Ibid..
45
In an interesting example of how traditions change as they cross borders, people who commit suicide are not
honored with Day of the Dead altars in Latin America.
46
Personal observation, Sherman Heights Community Center, San Diego, October 26, 2000.


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