The Performance of Faith: Aesthetics of Devotion in Quiapo

Bonilla, Celia M. (2001) The Performance of Faith: Aesthetics of Devotion in Quiapo. Masters thesis, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

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This thesis studies the expressions of faith circulating within and around the Quiapo church. It seeks to explore Quiapo as locus of various practices in faith, urban life, and folk ritual. In particular, it seeks to grasp the experience of the Black Nazarene devotion as embodied in the devotees themselves. Thus, the thesis focuses on the aesthetics of the experience of devotion, as an aspect in the study of the aesthetics of everyday life. The devotees are viewed as social “actors” negotiating space and interacting with various artifacts on a stage set for the performance of the experience of devotion. The thesis focuses on three sets of texts that are studied in their respective modes of analysis. Church architecture and icons in and around the church are subjected to the discipline of art history and art criticism. The text of devotional practices is discussed through ethnography and ethnographic analysis. The third text, which is the lives and experiences of the devotees, is treated in the light of aesthetics of experience. “Aesthetics,” as discussed in this work, is a departure from the aestheticism propounded by Baumgarten, Schiller, and Kant that focuses on formal works of art. The term “aesthetics of experience” pursues in concept John Dewey’s basic theme that “artistic and aesthetic quality is implicit in any normal experience.” It notes what anthropologist Robert Desjarlais refers to as the “values, resonance, and sensibilities” people undergo in a visceral way, since—as cultural sociologist Pierre Bourdieu points out—the body is the natural vehicle for judgment. In effect, this thesis teases out what is aesthetic in the experience of devotion. In the aesthetics of the experience of devotion in Quiapo, I note three embodied values. The first is the sense of personal miracle (milagro), the second is the vow to reciprocate (panata), and the third is the group of interrelated values of communication, identification, and oneness. These embodied values are experienced “high above the threshold of perception” and therefore provide the “internal integration and fulfillment” Dewey marks out as essential in an aesthetic experience. Noting these embodied values points to how devotees grasp concepts and materialize their aspirations in terms of concrete, though idealized, images and icons.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: With 13 leaves of illustrations.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Catholicism, cultural performance, cultural performance criticism, cultural performance history, Manila, Quiapo, rites and rituals
Depositing User: Repo Admin
Date Deposited: 12 May 2017 15:07
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2017 04:06

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