The dissertation, titled “Take Care and Venerate”: Morenita, Excessive Personhood, and Devotedness in a Puerto Rican Family, explores one question: how religious objects are theological. Using the historical polemics around images (such as idolatry and iconoclasm), scholarship on Latin American and U.S. Latinx popular religion and theology (especially around La Guadalupe), Catholic and Latinx mariology, decolonial thought, theories of agency and of things, and ethnography through objects, I theorize and develop a method to illustrate what I call excessive personhood, that is, the distributed and transcending agency through which theology materializes in the Latinx devotional context. Then, using the stories, histories, and material culture analyses of one particular Puerto Rican image of La Virgen de la Monserrate (whose ‘custodian’ Enrique calls Morenita) and her human, objectual, and divine co-participants in devotional materialities, I suggest specific theological insights evident in the Enrique-Morenita excessive personhood as related to what I call devotedness. I conclude that devotedness not only validates the religiosity intrinsic to this Latinx devotional space particularly but also drives religious knowledge and understanding for this Morenita’s particular devotee Enrique – that is, his theology. I suggest that devotedness expresses the creativity, solidarity, and radical otherness that Morenita (and by implication, Mary Mother of God) represents for Enrique and beyond both as devotional object and decolonializing subject.




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