The Politics of Audibility: Language, Music, and Piety in a Q’eqchi’-Maya Catholic Community

Thursday, March 29, 2018
4:30 pm
Kreger Hall 319

Q’eqchi’-Maya in the parish of San Felipe, in Cobán, Guatemala are deeply divided over questions of which language— Spanish or Q’eqchi’(one of the 21 indigenous languages spoken in Guatemala)— is best suited for Catholic worship. Mainline Catholics, for whom Q’eqchi’ is a language understood as deeply entwined with their ethnic identity hear Charismatic Catholics’ Spanish-language hymns as a sign that the latter are breaking from their community. The Charismatics, on the other hand, feel traditional Q’eqchi’-language hymns inhibit the joy they feel as Christians. This talk will explore this division in San Felipe, and interrogate why hymns and the sounds that accompany them raise important questions of what it means to be both indigenous and Catholic in Guatemala.

Eric Hoenes del Pinal (B.A. Boston University; Ph.D. University of California, San Diego) joined the UNC Charlotte faculty in 2013. Trained as a cultural and linguistic anthropologist, his approach to the study of religion is strongly ethnographic, with an emphasis on the role of language and non-verbal forms of communication in shaping human interaction. His research interests include the study of global Christianity, the politics of language and culture, and the ethnography of Latin America with special emphasis on indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. His current research focuses on the role of language and non-verbal forms of communication in driving religious and social change among Q’eqchi’-Maya Catholics in Guatemala. This work examines how congregational differences between Mainstream and Charismatic Catholics are constituted through discourse, how each group’s distinct ritual practices ground their members’ religious experiences, and the stakes that differing forms of religiosity have for people’s social identities and models of cultural citizenship.Screen reader support enabled. 

Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology

Dr. Eric Hoenes del Pinal
Dr. Eric Hoenes del Pinal
Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, UNC Charlotte