This volume compiled by Ilan Stavans examines the importance of ritual and celebration and the quincea-era celebration's growing social importance to in the Latino community, particularly in the United States.

The essays explore the quincea-era and the coming-of-age ritual from various angles. Prior to 2007, the quincea-era received no formal ritual through the Catholic Church, which has since issued one. As such, the role of religion and the Catholic Church in the quincea-era celebration is given extensive consideration. Gender, family status, class, race, as well as the aspects of performance are all discussed as central themes of the celebration. Delving through myriad perspectives, Quinceañeras illuminates the festivities' form and function in creating social and personal identity within the family and the larger Latino community.


The book series The Ilan Stavans Library of Latino Civilization, the first of its kind, is devoted to exploring all the facets of Hispanic civilization in the United States, with its ramifications in the Americas, the Caribbean Basin, and the Iberian Peninsula. The objective is to showcase its richness and complexity from a myriad perspective. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino minority is the largest in the nation. It is also the fifth largest concentration of Hispanics in the globe.

One out of every seven Americans traces his or her roots to the Spanishspeaking world. Mexicans make up about 65% of the minority. Other major national groups are Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Colombians. They are either immigrants, descendants of immigrants, or dwellers in a territory (Puerto Rico, the Southwest) having a conflicted relationship with the mainland U.S. As such, they are the perfect example of encuentro: an encounter with different social and political modes, an encounter with a new language, and encounter with a different way of dreaming.

The series is a response to the limited resources available and the abundance of stereotypes, which are a sign of lazy thinking. The 20th century Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, author of The Revolt of the Masses, once said: “By speaking, by thinking, we undertake to clarify things, and that forces us to exacerbate them, dislocate them, schematize them. Every concept is in itself an exaggeration.” The purpose of the series is not to clarify but to complicate our understanding of Latinos. Do so many individuals from different national, geographic, economic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds coalesce as an integrated whole? Is there an unum in the pluribus?

Baruch Spinoza believed that every thing in the universe wants to be preserved in its present form: a tree wants to be a tree, and a dog a dog. Latinos in the United States want to be Latinos in the United States—no easy task, and therefore an intriguing one to explore. Each volume of the series contains an assortment of approximately a dozen articles, essays and interviews by journalists and specialists in their respective fields, followed by a bibliography of important resources on the topic. Their compilation is . . .

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