Alejandro Escalante is a PhD candidate in UNC-Chapel Hill‘s Department of Religious Studies. His principal research focuses on the relationship between gender, race, and religion in las fiestas tradicionales en honor a Santiago Apóstol in Loíza, Puerto Rico.
Each July, people from all over the world converge on the small, coastal city to celebrate Santiago, the chosen patron saint of Loíza. They fete him through special masses said in his honor, musical performances, and a three-day procession of his images. As part of the celebrations, people also take part in costuming as one of several characters (pictured). La loca is the principal character through which Alejandro analyzes la fiesta. She forms the basis for both his methodological and theoretical framework in his dissertation. Through her, he investigates the mad relationships between gender, race, and religion.