Newberry Seminar: Deborah Kanter


Location: online

This is an online event based at the Newberry in Chicago and scheduled to take place at 3:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Registration is required for online participation. More information and registration is available at

“Empire and Inculturation: American Claretian Missions in Central America”

Deborah Kanter, Albion College


Deborah Kanter
The Claretian Missionaries established missions in Panama (1923) and Guatemala (1966). In both countries they endured arduous travel to celebrate baptisms in thatch-roofed churches and to bless schools. The Panama missions embodied traditional, hierarchical Catholic projects in “exotic” lands that dismissed native people’s potential. The Claretians arrived in Guatemala in an era of great change for the Catholic church, especially in Latin America with the new spirit of liberation. Missionaries recognized the human potential in Guatemalan people of different ethnicities: together, they created church. This paper explores Central American Catholic missions in the context of imperialism, the Cold War, and Vatican II sensibilities.


This seminar is free, but all participants must register in advance.

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About the Religion and Culture in the Americas Seminar Series

The Religion and Culture in the Americas Seminar explores topics in religion and culture including social history, biography, cultural studies, visual and material culture, urban studies, and the history of ideas. We are interested in how religious belief has affected society, rather than creedal or theological focused studies.

The Seminar’s organizers for 2023–24 are Christopher Allison (Dominican University), Christopher Cantwell (Loyola University Chicago), Darren Dochuk (University of Notre Dame), Karen Johnson (Wheaton College), David Lantigua (University of Notre Dame) Malachy McCarthy (Claretian Missionaries Archives), and Kevin Schultz (University of Illinois Chicago). The Religion and Culture in the Americas Seminar is co-sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, the McGreal Center at Dominican University, the History Department at Loyola University, the University of Chicago Divinity School, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Wheaton College.

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