Burial Practices Expose Identity Formation: Muerte y figura hasta la sepultura

  • Tess Pantoja Perez
  • Josie Méndez-Negrete
Keywords: Racialization, Americanization, Ethnic Identity Formation, Funerary Practices, Intergenerational Trauma Healing


An examination of identity formation and its performative qualities or ways in which one enacts identity emerged as a result of a study of racially segregated cemeteries in a rural South Texas town, a practice that continues to dictate how burials are carried out, according to race. Fieldwork, archives, and pláticas, made visible the historical origins of funerary practices for the primary author—whose family lives in Nixon, Texas. Along with documenting funerary practices, this study explores the ways in which Pantoja Perez’s ancestors creatively camouflaged ethnicity to disidentify with their Mexican identity, in the context of an ideology of Americanization. It was found that cultural, as well as funerary practice veiled and protected Mexicans by class, thus not having to enact a racialized ethnicity while rejecting culture and language practices associated with being Mexican in public spaces.