A model Guadalupan: devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe and psychosocial stress among Mexican immigrants

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This project measures the buffering effect of devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe on psychosocial stress among Mexican immigrants to Scott County, Mississippi. Rural Scott County is home to the largest percentage of Hispanic immigrants in Mississippi. The Virgin of Guadalupe is considered an icon of Mexican identity, and the flexibility of this "master symbol" allows her to adapt to the needs of devotees in the context of immigration. This project takes a biocultural medical anthropological approach to immigration by considering Guadalupan devotion as a way of coping with the stressors of immigration. The study explores the following hypotheses: 1) there is a culturally-shared model of Guadalupan devotion among Mexican immigrants in Scott County, Mississippi, and 2) cultural consonance in that model "buffers" the effects of immigration stressors. Results from key informant interviews and participant observation are combined to describe life in Scott County. The cultural model of Guadalupan devotion is elicited, and individual variance in consonance with the model is measured using cultural consensus and consonance analysis. Quantitative results are analyzed using correlation and regression analysis. Results establish that there is a shared cultural model of Guadalupan devotion, consisting of such things as: keeping her image in the home; lighting her candle; being humble; attending her celebrations; sharing her message with others; and being more devoted in diaspora. Residual agreement analysis further indicates salient agreement among members of the smaller community of Morton, and reveals a patterned divergence in agreement among members of the larger community of Forest. Results also indicate that high consonance in the cultural model moderates the effects of immigration stressors on health. Among parents, high consonance in the cultural model additionally moderates the effects of immigration stressors on satisfaction with life. Ideologies reinforced by Guadalupan devotion (the nation, the family, the Church, and even the immigration experience) appear to be part of a larger identity that serves as a "complete package" of coping strategies. By subscribing to the model, Mexican immigrants, and especially parents, are lessening the impact of psychosocial stressors often associated with the immigration experience.

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Cultural anthropology