On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Aesthetics of Solidarity: Our Lady of Guadalupe and American Democracy

Unifying Symbols in the Face of Oppression

In The Aesthetics of Solidarity, theologian and University of Virginia Professor Nichole M. Flores probes the historical uses of Our Lady of Guadalupe as an aesthetic symbol among Latine Catholics. Reflecting first on the legend of Our Lady and Juan Diego, she goes on to highlight in her work the religious, political, and economic interests that Guadalupe functions to uplift, “ranging from the Chicano movement and United Farm Workers’ movements to contemporary calls for just immigration reform.” Through the course of these observations, Flores tracks the ways in which the symbol serves as a mirror back toward the beholder, allowing them to reflect inward on Guadalupe’s meaning for their own self concept: as a mother, as a revolutionary, or as a believer, to name a few. Making note of many of Guadalupe’s culturally significant ‘little stories’ through a critical and philosophical lens, Aesthetics makes a theologically compelling case for Guadalupe’s value for unification and democracy.

Nichole M. Flores is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Besides authoring The Aesthetics of Solidarity, Flores has written a number of articles and book chapters, including a chapter on Ella Baker for PLT Director Charles Marsh’s book Can I Get a Witness? Her research interests include the relationship between Catholic and Latinx communities and aesthetics to various issues, including (but not limited to) justice, democracy, race, ethnicity, and gender.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“At a moment when society is fraying and politics is polarized Flores provides a rich, ethical conception of democratic solidarity and its centrality to a politics of the common good in a pluralistic context. Arguing against key liberal philosophers, Flores’s theologically and aesthetically sophisticated political theology of solidarity creatively draws on a set of resources rooted in Latine responses to oppression, including movements for social justice, political campaigns, theatre, popular religious celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and experiences of lo cotidiano. In doing so the book models the best of what teologia en conjunto means both in practice and in scholarship.” 

-Luke Bretherton,  Robert E. Cushman Professor of Moral & Political Theology at Duke University

The Aesthetics of Solidarity represents a major contribution to the ongoing development of U.S. Latinx theology. Flores has produced a first-rate scholarly monograph in which she carefully develops, and clearly articulates, the intellectual features of an aesthetics of solidarity ― a rich notion that will, no doubt, influence theological conversation in the future, not only among Latinx scholars but in the broader theological community.”

– Journal of Hispanic/Latino Theology

“Nichole M. Flores expertly weaves in storytelling and theology to examine the usage of Marian symbols, from the Chicano movement to immigration organizers today. The Aesthetics of Solidarity is a must-read for everyone looking to deepen their understanding of Latinx theology and proves why Flores is one of the most important theological voices in the Catholic Church today.”

-Olga Segura, author of Birth of a Movement: Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church

For more information on the publication, click here.

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