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Sowing the Sacred
traces the development of Pentecostalism among Mexican-American migrant laborers in California's agricultural industry from the 1910s to the 1960s. At the time, Pentecostalism was often seen as a distasteful new sect rife with cultish and fanatical tendencies; U.S. growers thought of Mexicans as no more than a mere workforce not fit for citizenship; and industrial agriculture was celebrated for feeding American families while its exploitation of workers went largely ignored. Farmworkers were made out to be culturally vacuous and lacking creative genius, simple laborers caught in a vertiginous cycle of migrant work.
This book argues that farmworkers from La Asamblea Apost lica de la Fe en Cristo Jes s
carved out a robust socio-religious existence despite these conditions, and in doing so produced a vast record of cultural vibrancy. Examining racialized portrayals of Mexican workers and their religious lives through images created by farmworkers themselves, Sowing the Sacred
draws on oral histories, photographs, and materials from new archival collections to tell an intimate story of sacred-space making. In showing how these workers mapped out churches, performed outdoor baptisms in grower-controlled waterways, and built and maintained houses of worship in the fields, this book considers the role that historical memory plays in telling these stories.