Weekly Quotes Celebrating 25th Anniversary of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands
Aunt Lute celebrates the 25th anniversary of Gloria Anzaldúa‘s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza with weekly quotes about the enduring importance and beauty of this groundbreaking work. An influential work in women’s and Chicana/Latina studies—and in the lives of everyday people—Borderlands not only expressed Gloria’s perspectives as a queer mestiza, but offered a new, hybrid way of speaking and understanding for all outsiders.
Do you have a favorite quote about Borderlands? Share it with us!
This Week’s Quote:
Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera set a benchmark in the definition of Chicana feminist scholarship that clearly resonates throughout our field, including in the structure—the form—of the conversations we stage, not just in what we publish but also in how we publish it.
Editorial Conocimientos: Gloria Anzaldúa’s Impact on Chicana Feminist Publication and Mentoring Practices
Tiffany Ana López
Previous Weeks’ Quotes:
In Borderlands, Anzaldúa speaks not from the position of citizen, but from the in-between and outside, to imagine new ways of belonging. In Borderlands/ La Frontera she calls us to effect those new ways of belonging by stepping outside of frameworks we already know…
Nation, Migration, and Borderlands: Human Mobility vs. Immigration in Anzaldúa
Anzaldúa’s Borderlands presented us with a new philosophical framework outside of western binary thought, a different way to think and conceive the making of meaning, a way beyond the hegemonic: a multiply queer way of knowing.
The Performance of Spirituality and Visionary Politics in the Work of Gloria Anzaldúa
From Anzaldúa we have learned what it means to develop a new mestiza consciousness as one of the aspects of borderland identities. The multiplicity of crossing borders includes that after crossing we discover we are not welcome on the other side. Thus, we may take some time to reflect on the process by learning the meaning of being the crosser. After the crossing, the way of navigating what we have encountered on the other side becomes a process of permanent inadequacy. Anzaldúa describes this as an agony where adopting strategies of acculturation may be for some bordercrossers una tabla de salvación. However, if one does not want to take the first available tabla de salvación the agony of inadequacy may be a creative path to navigate within a culture where one does not fit or belong.
The Agony of Inadequacy
By Patricia Pedroza
Even though Gloria is no longer with us as a physical presence, her spirit remains—the fierce, passionate new mestiza, the brave pioneer who explored and defined la frontera, the visionary architect of la puente, the poet and scholar whose hybrid consciousness gave us all a new conceptual home. We know that the world is made better by our fully realized differences, and it is precisely at the flash points of intersecting differences that there is potential for transformation through multiplicity.
Gloria Anzaldúa: Bridging the Academy
Borderlands is a hybrid text composed of fragments of essay, the development of conceptual categories, fiction, pieces of history in the mouths of the vanquished and counterposed to the official history, poetry, corridos, autobiography, sayings, and songs. Classifying it into a single genre is impossible because it navigates between essay, fiction, autobiography, and poetic narrative.
Un Rosario de Glorias: Güeras and Prietas at the Borders: The Lateral Narratives of Gloria Anzaldúa and Rosario Castellanos
By Marisa Belausteguigoitia
I found Borderlands fascinating because it talked directly to me. I could relate and respond to many of Anzaldúa’s thoughts regarding the geo-political area we had in common. I could share her anger against Anglos mistreating Chicanos and Mexicanos. I was fond of the way she intertwined her personal narrative with ancient Mexican and Chicano myths and history. I admired her passion in most of her poems and her devotion when talking about family and community. It was stimulating to read such a subversive text, and to know that many people also had access to it.
—Twenty Years of Borderlands: A Reading from the Border
Maria Socorro Tabuenca-Cordoba
In the specificity of who Gloria was and what she experienced, she saw and created theory that might be used beyond the singularity of one woman, having the power to inspire a plethora of ongoing dialogues. She validated my instinct to draw connections between explicit experiences and analytical critiques of subconscious forms of racism, the way that good intentions lead to paternalism and the appropriation of culture, and the ways in which the realities of the poor remain invisible in the unconscious consumption of images and fame. It is a method to which I must return again and again. Because no matter how well trained I become in more conventional scholarly methods, I am constantly opening doors in the present that usher in the pain and humiliation of past inequalities. It is a firm base from which to produce and read all the theory I will ever need.
—Wounds of Fire: Anzaldúa’s Cultural Production from Pain to Theory
Anzaldúa’s voyage of discovery, focused on the border and the new mestiza, is a preparation for the future. The border is a bundle of contradictions and ambiguities… This hybrid crossroads is just the right kind of training ground. It is fertile area for mutations and transformations. In Borderlands/La Frontera, Gloria Anzaldúa is our guide with an all-encompassing vision to charge the border with meaning.
—The Americas Review
When I think of Gloria Anzaldúa, I think of transformation. We have all been changed by her, and so have the worlds we inhabit. She gave us new ways to understand our struggle and the realities we have faced as mujeres, living the contradictions and ambiguities of mestizaje. And I, for one, will be forever indebted to her.
– Gloria Anzaldúa: Bridging the Academy
By Rusty Barceló
One of the 100 Best Books of the Twentieth Century…
—Hungry Mind Review (Spring 1999)
Gloria Anzaldúa…appropriates for herself the right to create her own vision of the context of her life. She draws some components of her historical narrative from official historiography, but unravels them, re-interprets them, re-signifies them, re-arranges them. She makes present some historical elements that are absent from official historiographies…She shifts between her personal histories and the larger histories of her peoples (which she defines in the plural). Her re-conceptualizations cannot be contained in any one genre. She inscribes them multiply, weaves them together: paragraphs publishable in academic journals, personal narratives, poetry, fiction, dream, sequences. Together they make for some intense theorizing.
- Transnational Borderlands: Gloria Anzaldúa’s Epistemologies of Resistance and Lesbians ‘Of Color’ in Paris
By Paola Baccheta
In Borderlands, Anzaldúa tenses racial, class, and sexuality differences to the limit by subjecting them to the category of being female, being poor, being Chicana, and being lesbian, living in English but thinking in Spanish. She unfolds being the female protagonist of all betrayals: of her Mexican culture because she writes in English, of the Anglo culture because she turns English in Spanglish, of women’s culture because she renounces maternity, of the patriarchal culture because she rejects both femininity and heterosexuality. Anzaldúa’s writing, body, and language are at the limits of any social and symbolic national/hegemonic system; her entire being falls within the periphery; her entire being is the product of lateralness.
- Un Rosario de Glorias: Güeras and Prietas at the Borders: The Lateral Narratives of Gloria Anzaldúa and Rosario Castellanos
By Marisa Belausteguigoitia
…Borderlands: The New Mestiza, knocked me on my proverbial hind-end and changed everything I thought I knew about social justice.
Class, Race and Images of Wilma: Complicating “White Privilege”
Counter Punch December, 2011
Paul C. Gorksi
[She] explores in prose and poetry the murky, precarious existence of those living on the frontier between cultures and languages…she meditates on the conditions of Chicanos in Anglo culture, women in Hispanic culture, and lesbians in the straight world…a powerful document that belongs in all collections with emphasis on Hispanic American or feminist issues.
Anzaldúa’s vision encompasses spiritual and experiential aspects of female power, as well as the day-to-day courage and struggle that has characterized Chicano survival.
—The San Francisco Chronicle
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza es importante y crucial en mi formación académica ya que fue el primer texto que me autorizó a utilizar mi posicionalidad de mujer de frontera para interpretar no solamente los textos culturales y políticos que se manipulan en y desde la academia, sino también para rechazarlos o negociarlos.
—Guadalupe Cortina from “Andamos Huyendo, Gloria: Academia, Fronteras Y La Nueva Mestiza”
Anzaldúa dismantles both U.S. and Mexico’s national hegemonic identities and pushes us to see beyond the red-white-and-blue, the green-white-and-red, or both. By silencing the other othernesses that I mentioned before, Anzaldúa drives us to reflect on them and suddenly they begin to appear in our border geographies. We begin to see our landscapes filled with different faces, which are excluded most of the time from our discourses. We can then acknowledge the many indigenous groups belonging to this geographical area that arrived before our ancestors or we arrived.
—Maria Socorro Tabuenca-Cordoba, from “Twenty Years of Borderlands: A Reading from the Border”
I define myself as an Anzaldúan feminist and I position myself as a woman who is not interested in aculturarme—or in engaging an acculturation process. My position is Anzaldúan because it requires applying la facultad as a skill of being able to see surfaces, and being able to have the courage to engage all aspects of living within a culture that I cannot recognize, where I am not welcomed. Thus, inadecuadez—inadequacy as an Anzaldúan state of consciousness is a self-position from which I navigate what situate me as a foreigner. I make a decision to follow Anzaldúa’s invitation to have the courage to live outside societal norms that make me feel inadecuada and at the same time give me the freedom to “no darle cuentas a nadie” (Borderlands 43).
—Patricia Pedroza, from “The Agony of Inadequacy”
Anzaldúa is a self-proclaimed borderland being, a Chicana who lives close to the border between Mexico and Texas, who shares several cultures and uses a mixture of languages. With exceptional insight, she creates a mosaic of the marginal person: a person, like herself, who exists in a state of transition, of ambivalence, of conflict; someone who is infused with many cultures yet cannot claim a single one wholly for herself. Her journal is written in earth tones, like an Aztec design, tones that are both engaging and striking. Weaving prose with poetry, Mexican-Indian history with psychology, mythology with philosophy, the author pulls together the frazzled edges of Chicano culture and of her sense of self. Anzaldúa is a rebellious and willful talent who recognizes that life on the border, “life in the shadows,” is vital territory for both literature and civilization.
For students of color, and of Chicano background in particular, the concepts and history of Mexican identity contemplated with the vigor of Gloria Anzaldúa in Borderlands allows these students to break free of the hegemonic constraints that school systems have placed on them since the beginning of their education. These re-readings provide students with a space where they can safely contest hegemonic literatures, histories, and society.
—Margaret E. Cantú, from “Embracing Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera as Multicultural Pedagogy”
My initial reading of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza came in the winter of 2001, and immediately I was fascinated by the complexity and originality of her theory of the borderlands. She surprised me at every turn of the text, in each new chapter, by taking her analysis of the emergence of a New Mestiza consciousness into unexpected and unexplored territories. Her method of inquiry has revealed to me new intellectual, psychological, and spiritual spaces that are in the process of being formed via new symbols, codes, and categories, and has brought me fresh understandings of the complex and heterogeneous worlds that are emerging around us.
— Jorge Capetillo-Ponce, from “Exploring Gloria Anzaldúa’s Methodology in Borderlands/La Frontera—The New Mestiza”
I refuse to let [Gloria] go—to relegate her wholly to some dead past. I still marvel at her ability to speak to so many people across racial, class, gender, and sexuality divisions. And at the very same time, I feel that there is a piece that is just for Chicanas—you know, eye to eye, entre la raza, entre las mujeres. I believe that her cultural production continues to exist within me. It is eternally new each time I encounter the irony and pain that comes with living in an oppressive society, and I need to use that experience to create theory as a framework that might be useful to activist projects, even if that only means providing a concrete example of how inequality functions and is maintained.
—Edén Torres, from “Wounds of Fire: Anzaldúa’s Cultural Production from Pain to Theory”
The emotional and intellectual impact of the book is disorienting and powerful…all languages are spoken, and survival depends on understanding all modes of thought. In the borderlands new creatures come into being. Anzaldúa celebrates this “new mestiza” in bold, experimental writing.
—The Village Voice
Anzaldúa’s pulsating weaving of innovative poetry with sparse informative prose brings us deep into the insider/outsider consciousness of the borderlands; that ancient and contemporary, crashing and blending world that divides and unites America.
—Women’s Review of Books