Saint-Blancet, Chantal and Adriano Cancellieri. 2014. “From invisibility to visibility?: The appropriation of public space through a religious ritual: the Filipino procession of Santacruzan in Padua, Italy. Social & Cultural Geography. Early online publication.
Abstract: Mainly employed as domestic workers and care providers since the 1980s, Filipino migrants have been, and still are, largely invisible in Italian public space. Since 1991, once a year, on the last Sunday of May, they transform the streets of Padua, city of Saint Anthony, into their own temporary ‘sacred space’ celebrating the finding of the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz). Based on ethnographic research and in-depth interviews, the paper analyses the preparation of the ritual and the embodied performance as a means to interpret the Filipino local and transnational territorialisation in the Italian context. The discussion underlines how the Italian setting affects the relationship between the sacred and the secular and between majority and minority religions in the urban texture. Urban space being the symbolic arena where identity and the process of boundary making are inscribed, we consider public space as a social process constituted by three levels: accessibility, temporary appropriation and visibility. Drawing on this immigrant religious ritual, we apply this perspective to look at the interactions between local society and newcomers and the blurring boundaries between religious and non-religious in the ambiguous Italian public space.