Beyond Artifacts: Bridecentrism, Meaning, and Market in Wedding Material Culture

Beyond Artifacts: Bridecentrism, Meaning, and Market in Wedding Material Culture

Lorna M. Vélez-Gómez

Abstract: This work aims at examining the “strangeness” of the familiar ritual of the wedding through an in-depth look at how artifacts circulate in weddings. Carried out in the western part of Puerto Rico, this study makes a contribution by addressing a gap in the anthropological literature on Puerto Rico with the study of the wedding ritual and contributing to the broader anthropological study of how meaning is produced, communicated and negotiated. This research reveals that Puerto Rican weddings are a bride-centric ritual, and that the meaning attributed to wedding artifacts is the result of negotiations between what are perceived by participants as structural, traditional, ritual constraints or guidelines and what are described as more personal or idiosyncratic preferences. This analysis of wedding artifacts also suggests an underlying logic of how people and things are classified in Puerto Rican culture. Artifacts are classified; much like people are classified- objects are incorporated into the ritual because they perpetuate notions of valuable characteristics in people (eg. uniqueness). The market then, targets brides, because the market understands women long to possess these values and also posses the knowledge necessary to produce the truth and the power needed to make decisions regarding wedding aesthetics.

Student Anthropologist, 2 (1)

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 54-61

Download PDF Vélez-Gómez 2010

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