CSUN to host discussion about religious symbols and political resistance

Ashley Soley-Cerro

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Harvard professor David Carrasco aims to connect ancient cultures of the Mesoamerican era to current immigration issues in Borderlands and Immigration: The Power of Religious Symbols and the Politics of Resistance being held at the University Student Union Theater.

The lecture will look at the impact of religions on society. Dr. Rick Talbott, professor of religious studies, said religion is used to reach and influence people. This event will recognize religion as an integral force for all nations and connect immigration issues to religious symbols, such as the Virgin of Guadalupe, that have been used throughout the years as a symbol for minority cultures to express values, culture and unity.

Carrasco is a historian and consummate of all religions and the premiere world authority on Mesoamerican culture, according to Talbott, whose idea it was to have the lecture. Carrasco teaches in the religious and anthropology departments at Harvard, and is the editor in chief for The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures.

“He is a bright, charming and entertaining speaker, anyone who goes will be enlightened,” Talbott said. “He will make it dance and come to life.”

“There’s a persistence of religion, he (Carrasco) will try to recognize this,” Talbott said. “Religious symbols function as a hidden transcript to give a message of resistance, they have real significance and power.”

“For example, even in our secular nation, with a legal separation of church and state, people get a lot of mileage out of religious stories,” Talbott said. “Politicians are able to gain support and credibility (with religion) and use religion to influence and control, it isn’t going away.”

A recently published study at the University of Chicago looked at religions around the world, including the United States, and found a resurgence of religion, the fastest growing being Pentecostalism, a form of Christianity common in China. Islam is growing rapidly as well, Talbott said.

Talbott said immigration is an important issue, especially with CSUN’s diverse culture. He says he planned the event because he wanted to contribute to the discourse on immigration and the role religion plays.

UCLA is cosponsoring the event and will have two free lectures on its campus Tuesday. These will include “City of Ritual and Sacrifice: Aztec Empire/Aztec Rule,” from noon to 1:30 pm. in Royce Hall 314. As well as, “Narrating the Conquest of Mexico from Spanish and Aztec Accounts,” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Ackerman Union – second floor lounge.