Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



As geographers continue to research the interactions between physical landscapes and conceived or represented landscapes, the Virgin of Guadalupe pilgrimage site, a prominent site for Latin American Catholicism, provided an opportunity for further study in this area. Mexico City’s rapid expansion drastically changed the material landscape from rural to densely urban, especially since the early 1900s. With indigenous spirituality closely tied to the physical aspects of the landscape, especially those more related to the natural and rural elements, the onset of urbanity can potentially lead to alienation and consequently a decrease in pilgrimages and participation in worship at the site. How then, do those representing the site adjust to the changes in the landscape in order to maintain a sense of spirituality, and how is spirituality maintained through the interactions of all other elements of the material/conceptual landscape associated with the site? Repeat photography, field observation, and archival research were used to answer these questions. In order to gain more perspective, historical sections were written describing the venerated image of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the cultural, especially religious, differences between the natives and Europeans involved with this site. Another section describes the site as seen in 2005, while comparing it to earlier years. Several dialectical considerations are discussed in order to provide a more in-depth understanding of the site’s interactions with its surroundings. Subsequently a material/conceptual landscape site analysis model, developed in regards to this pilgrimage site but potentially applicable elsewhere, paves the way for understanding the intricate interactions taking place among different aspects of the material/conceptual landscape. The concluding section extrapolates general themes regarding previous responses of representations and the material pilgrimage site design to threat of a potentially alienating urban landscape, along with indicating what we may expect to see when visiting the site and viewing representations of the site in the near future. The concluding section also delves into possible future research opportunities at this pilgrimage site, especially regarding various forms of landscape analysis.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Andrew Sluyter