by Emma Gray
Gloria Anzaldúa was a Mexican-American lesbian feminist poet, cultural theorist, and activist. After receiving her BA from the Pan American University and an MA from the University of Texas at Austin, she began contributing to cultural theory, queer theory, and feminist theory. Her works include Making Face, Making Soul (1990), Interviews (2000, with Analouise Keating), This Bridge We Call Home (2002, with Analouise Keating), and her most well-known book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987). Anzaldúa took issue with the lack of attention paid to race and class in traditional feminist theory. She endeavored to raise awareness of this issue with texts like This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981, co-edited by Cherrie Moraga), which is a landmark work of transnational feminist theory that sparked the third wave of feminism (Sánchez-Casal). The volume includes poems, short stories, and essays written by women of color about their experiences in white patriarchal society.
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza is centered on postcolonial history, culture, gender, sexuality, and spirituality and includes poetry, autobiography, and historiography. In the text, Anzaldúa refers to the border between the United States and Mexico as an “unnatural boundary” and discusses the possibility of a borderland in which marginalized groups like women and people of color could adopt new forms of consciousness and identity. Anzaldúa describes the consciousness of the borderlands as a “new mestiza consciousness” (Anzaldua, 1987; as cited in Sánchez-Casal). “Mestiza,” meaning mixed, is a refusal of binaries, such as the binaries present in white patriarchal society (Buchanan). In sum, the borderlands function as a space absent of sexist, racist, and heterocentric cultural norms.
Interestingly, throughout the book, Anzaldúa oscillates between English, Spanish, and Spanglish, and thus some portions are indecipherable to people who speak only English or only Spanish. Because of this, Borderlands itself is a borderland only bilingual readers can fully access (Sánchez-Casal).
Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute, 1987. Print.
Anzaldúa, Gloria. Making Face, Making Soul: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color, 1990. Print.
Anzaldúa, Gloria and Keating, Analouise. This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation, 2002. Print.
Moraga, Cherríe, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Toni C. Bambara. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, 1981. Print.
Buchanan, Ian. “Anzaldúa, Gloria.” A Dictionary of Critical Theory. Oxford University Press, 2010.
Sánchez-Casal, Susan. "Anzaldúa, Gloria." The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory. Ed. Michael Ryan, Wiley, 1st edition, 2011. Credo Reference, http://libproxy.union.edu/login?auth=shibboleth&url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/wileylitcul/anzald%C3%BAa_gloria/0?institutionId=5120.