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The article argues that the originality of Anzaldua's book lies in the intersection of discourses, of literary genres and languages that matches the peculiar, hybrid character of this autobiographical work.
In her attempt at transgressing the ethnic, social and sexual boundaries set by the three cultures Mexican, Indian, American that have shaped her, the author aims at reinventing a new syncretic self. Gloria Anzaldua. A place on the map is also a place in history. Adrienne Rich. Chicana writers had already made a significant literary breakthrough by the eighties but the use of feminist and post-colonial theory in the context of a borderlands prose and poetry autobiography was, indeed, quite new 1.
Its very title and subtitle announce the exploration of Chicana ethnic identity within a specific localization: the U. In her preface to the book Anzaldua clarifies the diverse angles of her approach to the borderlands:.
The psychological borderlands, the sexual borderlands and the spiritual borderlands are not particular to the Southwest.
In fact, the Borderlands are physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other The Chicano Movement rhetoric actually runs like a thread throughout the book.
Anzaldua clearly adheres to the theory of internal colonialism adopted by Chicano historians like Rodolfo Acuna 5. Her own identity has been shaped by traditions on both sides of the Rio Grande, i.
It is this particular space that the writer has chosen to spotlight. According to William Boelhower:. The subject produces ethnic semiosis through a strategic use of memory which is nothing other than the topological and genealogical interrogation of the originating culture of his her immigrant ancestors 7. The Mexican-Americans are a community born in the aftermath of a war whose residual pain the writer is still not able to shake off:.
Indeed, the pain associated with the loss of their land is still vivid in the collective memory of the community. Lorna Dee Cervantes resorts to similar images in her poems:. These older towns die into stretches of freeway. The high scaffolding cuts a clean cesarean across belly valleys and fertile dust. Cervantes The prohibited and the forbidden are its inhabitants. Borderlands 3.
The most original aspect of the book lies in the conceptualizing of the borderlands as an interstitial space, as a painful but exhilarating collective experiment, possibly leading to the emergence of multiple, shifting, cross-cultural identifies 8. Hence, she is bound to delve into her own past and call into question some of the basic tenets on which she has been brought up It is the early awareness of her lesbian sexuality anathema in the traditional Mexican society followed by her courageous decision to confess it openly that will determine her subsequent personal evolution.
For some authors Cherrie Moraga or Luz Maria Umpierre , militant feminism with strong ties to the post-colonial Third World women of color and lesbianism go practically hand in hand. The phenomenon can be understood as a two-fold reaction both against the Anglo-American dominant ideology and the traditional roles ascribed to women in their own cultures.
I abhor how my culture makes macho caricatures of its men. I will not glorify those aspects of my culture which have injured me and which have injured me in the name of protecting me. Borderlands Melancholy, profoundly right and wrong, it embraces as it strangulates.
Castillo She keeps a certain aloofness from each of the two societies as well as from the Chicano community, for that matter. We need to say to white society Admit that Mexico is your double, that she exists in the shadow of this country, that we are irrevocably tied to her. By taking back your collective shadow the intracultural split will heal. If English is an acquired language, one in which the Mexican-American writers are never really at home, their use of the Spanish language bears the mark of cultural estrangement, of painful loss.
Somos los del espanol deficiente. English is my mother tongue. I have no mother tongue no mother to tongue no tongue to mother tongue me Philip We speak a patois, a forked tongue, a variation of two languages. Thus her ethnie identity has been largely shaped by the historical confrontation of her community with the Other, the Anglo-American, whom she nevertheless considers her double. This dichotomy is the root of all violence Not only was the brain split into two functions but so was reality.
Thus people who inhabit both realities are forced to live in the interface between the two, forced to become adept at switching modes.
Such is the case with the india and the mestiza. The project is an ambitious one. But when she reaches this point Anzaldua seemingly abandons her willingness to understand the Other and her constructive call for an authentic dialogue gives way to a hardline monologic discourse. Thus, in the following lines she is apparently calling for some strange cultural revolution which would entirely obliterate the European heritage associated with sterility, death and wars while welcoming the adoption of Far-Eastern religious philosophies alongside the indigenous traditions of the New World:.
By taking up curanderismo, Santeria, shamanism, Taoism, Zen and otherwise delving into the spiritual life and ceremonies of multi-colored people, Anglos would perhaps lose the white sterility they have in their kitchens, bathrooms, hospitals, mortuaries and missile bases. Thus, reaching the last pages of the book the reader stumbles over the very same oppositions the author had set out to abolish: white vs. At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between two mortal combatants somehow healed so that we are on both shores at once.
On the other hand it provides food for thought concerning the violent resurgence of ethnic and religious nationalisms in Central Europe. To survive the Borderlands you must live sin fronteras be a crossroads. In Critical Inquiry. XVIII, 4, , London: Routledge. Venezia: Edizioni Helvetia. The Mixquiahuala Letters. Binghamton, NY: Bilingual Press, In Grossberg, Lawrence et al, eds.
Cultural Studies. New York: Routledge, , Multi-Cultural Literacy. Saint Paul: Graywolf Press, , Charlottetown: Ragweed Press, Persephone Press. However, writers have mainly focused on the effects of the socio-cultural differences between Mexico and the U. Reconstructing American Literary History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, , Cahiers Charles V N o 15 oct.
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Desktop version Mobile version. Results per book Results per chapter. Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle. Search inside the book. Table of contents. Cite Share. Cited by. Ada Savin. Abstract Text Bibliography Notes Author. Full text. Gloria Anzaldua A place on the map is also a place in history. Reconstructing America Author Ada Savin. Read Open Access. Parcours identitaires.
Paris: Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, generated 05 June ISBN: Savin, A. In Fabre, G.
Must Reads: Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa
Today it is my theoretical bible, the text that I turn to first whenever I need to work out a problem in my writing or just to seek solace and resistance in the face of so many physical and psychological attacks on immigrants and people of color post-election. It also privileges ever-changing kinds of physical embodiment and multiple sexualities as modes of resistance in patriarchal cultures. But this inability to fully belong is not a state of despair and abjection — far from it. Rather, it is a productive state that signals agency and adaptability even as it honors the pain that comes with embodying contradiction. She learns to be an Indian in Mexican culture, to be Mexican from an Anglo point of view. She learns to juggle cultures. She has a plural personality, she operates in a pluralistic mode — nothing is thrust out, the good the bad and the ugly, nothing rejected, nothing abandoned.
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
Borderlands is a semi-autobiographical account that contains a mixture of prose and poetry. El otro Mexico que aca hemos construido, el espacio es lo que ha sido territorio nacional. Este el efuerzo de todos nuestros hermanos y latinoamericanos que han sabido progressar. The other Mexico that we have constructed, the space is what has become national territory.