Day of the Dead in the USA, Second Edition: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon (Latinidad: Transnational Cultures in the United States) (Paperback)

Day of the Dead in the USA, Second Edition: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon (Latinidad: Transnational Cultures in the United States) By Regina M. Marchi Cover Image


Honoring relatives by tending graves, building altars, and cooking festive meals has been a major tradition among Latin Americans for centuries. The tribute, "El Día de los Muertos," has enjoyed renewed popularity since the 1970s when Latinx activists and artists in the United States began expanding "Day of the Dead" north of the border with celebrations of performance art, Aztec danza, art exhibits, and other public expressions.
Focusing on the power of public ritual to serve as a communication medium, this revised and updated edition combines a mix of ethnography, historical research, oral history, and critical cultural analysis to explore the manifold and unexpected transformations that occur when the tradition is embraced by the mainstream. A testament to the complex role of media and commercial forces in constructions of ethnic identity, Day of the Dead in the USA provides insight into the power of art and ritual to create community, transmit oppositional messages, and advance educational, political, and economic goals.
Today Chicano-style Day of the Dead events take place in all fifty states. This revised edition provides new information about:
  • The increase in events across the US, incorporating media coverage and financial aspects,
  • Recent political movements expressed in contemporary Day of the Dead celebrations, including #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo
  • Greater media coverage and online presence of the celebration in blogs, websites, and streaming video
  • Día de los Muertos themes and iconography in video games and films 
  • The proliferation of commercialized merchandise such as home goods, apparel, face paints and jewelry at mainstream big box and web retailers, as well as the widespread proliferation of calavera-themed decorations and costumes for Halloween
  • 24 new full color illustrations


About the Author

REGINA MARCHI is a professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University—New Brunswick in New Jersey. She co-authored, with Lynn Schofield Clark, Young People and the Future of News, which won the 2018 Nancy Baym top book award from the Association of Internet Researchers and the 2018 James W. Carey Media Research Award.

Praise For…

"Marchi provides a unique and valuable account of the rise of Day of the Dead celebrations in the U.S., demonstrating the complex dynamics of ethnic and cultural identity in the contemporary cultural economy, urban community, and media environment."
— Eric W. Rothenbuhler

"What a difference a day (the Day of the Dead) makes! In the U.S. in the past generation, a Latin American family/religious ritual has been reinvented as a holiday of ethnic pride that builds bridges between new and settled immigrants, between Latinos and Anglos, and across cultural identity, consumerism, and political protest. Regina Marchi reveals all this in a marvelous work, a rare blend of charm, grace, attentive field work, and theoretical savvy."
— Michael Schudson

"Regina Marchi speaks directly to all of those wondering how Mexico's tradition of re-membering the dead within living communities became US America's newest holiday. The book thoughtfully records the voices of significant Chicanas/os whose traditional and non-traditional approaches initiated this transformation."
— David Avalos

“Regina Marchi has written the most historically and geographically comprehensive documentation of Día de los muertos. The second edition centers the voices of the Chicana/o/x artists and advocates who made this celebration into an international phenomenon and subsequently gained the attention of markets, museums, and the media.”
— Karen Mary Davalos

“Fifty years after the first Day of the Dead celebration was hosted in the United States, Marchi invites readers into a thriving world of the Día de los Muertos consumer culture. The book expands upon Marchi’s original historical and ethnographic research to foreground the role of consumer culture in the expression of ethno-racial identities within traditional practices of commemoration.”
— Rachel V. González-Martin

Product Details
ISBN: 9781978821637
ISBN-10: 1978821638
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: August 12th, 2022
Pages: 238
Language: English
Series: Latinidad: Transnational Cultures in the United States