Master of Arts (MA)


Foreign Languages and Literatures

Document Type



New Orleans, Louisiana, is a city with a rich Hispanic history which is often overlooked. Likewise, the role the Catholic Church has played in assisting the immigrant groups that have settled in New Orleans in the building of their communities has also often been ignored. The first part of this work will seek to trace the different Hispanic groups that have come to the city, their often unacknowledged legacies, and examine what role the Catholic Church played in their communities and history. During Spanish rule of colonial Louisiana from 1762 to 1803, Spanish colonists and recruits from the Canary Islands - or the Isleños - were the first Hispanic settlers in New Orleans. Both were exclusively Catholic. Nearly two centuries later, Cubans came to the city fleeing Castro's regime and Hondurans came looking for more opportunities as economic and social conditions in their homeland declined. This work will examine how the Catholic Church responded to the needs of the new arrivals. Masses were offered in the Spanish language in the city's Honduran neighborhood. The Church operated a center dedicated to helping Cubans transition in the city. It also offered and continues to offer English and citizenship classes, among other services, to Hispanics in the city. In Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, a new group of Hispanic immigrants has arrived in the metropolitan area. This group, however, is not as homogeneous as its predecessors; they are from different countries, speak different dialects of Spanish, and are more diverse in their religious affiliations. This means that the Catholic Church, although it does offer services for the new Hispanic immigrants, will not necessarily be the building block around which the new Hispanic community in New Orleans will be constructed. The second part of this work focuses on who these new Hispanic immigrants are and how they and Hispanics living in the city prior to Hurricane Katrina will "imagine" the new Hispanic community without shared national identities, languages and the central, and also without, necessarily, the constant element in the communities created by previous Hispanic immigrants and other immigrant groups in the city - the Catholic Church.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Kent Mathewson