by Regina M Marchi
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Paper: 978-1-9788-2163-7 | eISBN: 978-1-9788-2165-1 | Cloth: 978-1-9788-2164-4
Library of Congress Classification GT4995.A4M36 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 394.2660973

Honoring relatives by tending graves, building altars, and cooking festive meals has been a major tradition among Latin Americans for centuries. The tribute, "El Día de los Muertos," has enjoyed renewed popularity since the 1970s when Latinx activists and artists in the United States began expanding "Day of the Dead" north of the border with celebrations of performance art, Aztec danza, art exhibits, and other public expressions.
Focusing on the power of public ritual to serve as a communication medium, this revised and updated edition combines a mix of ethnography, historical research, oral history, and critical cultural analysis to explore the manifold and unexpected transformations that occur when the tradition is embraced by the mainstream. A testament to the complex role of media and commercial forces in constructions of ethnic identity, Day of the Dead in the USA provides insight into the power of art and ritual to create community, transmit oppositional messages, and advance educational, political, and economic goals.
Today Chicano-style Day of the Dead events take place in all fifty states. This revised edition provides new information about:
  • The increase in events across the US, incorporating media coverage and financial aspects,
  • Recent political movements expressed in contemporary Day of the Dead celebrations, including #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo
  • Greater media coverage and online presence of the celebration in blogs, websites, and streaming video
  • Día de los Muertos themes and iconography in video games and films 
  • The proliferation of commercialized merchandise such as home goods, apparel, face paints and jewelry at mainstream big box and web retailers, as well as the widespread proliferation of calavera-themed decorations and costumes for Halloween
  • 24 new full color illustrations


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