In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self

Posted in Books, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy, Women on 2016-03-15 02:53Z by Steven

In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self

State University of New York Press
April 2016
296 pages
Hardcover ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5977-6
Electronic ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5978-3

Mariana Ortega, Professor of Philosophy
John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio

Draws from Latina feminism, existential phenomenology, and race theory to explore the concept of selfhood.

This original study intertwining Latina feminism, existential phenomenology, and race theory offers a new philosophical approach to understanding selfhood and identity. Focusing on writings by Gloría Anzaldúa, María Lugones, and Linda Martín Alcoff, Mariana Ortega articulates a phenomenology that introduces a conception of selfhood as both multiple and singular. Her Latina feminist phenomenological approach can account for identities belonging simultaneously to different worlds, including immigrants, exiles, and inhabitants of borderlands. Ortega’s project forges new directions not only in Latina feminist thinking on such issues as borders, mestizaje, marginality, resistance, and identity politics, but also connects this analysis to the existential phenomenology of Martin Heidegger and to such concepts as being in the world, authenticity, and intersubjectivity. The pairing of the personal and the political in Ortega’s work is illustrative of the primacy of lived experience in the development of theoretical understandings of who we are. In addition to bringing to light central metaphysical issues regarding the temporality and continuity of the self, Ortega models a practice of philosophy that draws from work in other disciplines and that recognizes the important contributions of Latina feminists and other theorists of color to philosophical pursuits.

Tags: , , , , ,

A Mestiza in the Borderlands: Margarita Cota-Cárdenas Puppet

Posted in Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-12-29 23:48Z by Steven

A Mestiza in the Borderlands: Margarita Cota-Cárdenas Puppet

Atlantis: Journal of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies
Volume 34, Number 1 (June 2012)
pages 47-62

Ana María Manzanas Calvo
Department of American Literature and Culture
Universidad de Salamanca, Spain

The article explores the formal and conceptual complexities of a novella that has so far escaped wide critical attention even though it tackles similar issues to Anzaldúa’s Borderlands. Like Anzaldúa’s mestiza, Cota-Cárdenas’ narrator finds herself floundering in uncertain territory, for she has also discovered that she cannot hold concepts or ideas within rigid boundaries. That state of dissolution of traditional formations is what Cota-Cárdenas situates at the center of the narrative. Mestizaje in Puppet does not appear as a comfortable and privileged locus, but as a painful ideological repositioning, a third space or element that works against totalizing narratives. The article illustrates how Cota-Cárdenas foregrounds the powerful identitary revision Anzaldúa would carry out in Borderlands, and contributes to the understanding of the self, of culture and the nation from the point of view of borderland subjectivities.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

PHIL 539: Critical Philosophy of Race

Posted in Course Offerings, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2013-04-02 17:30Z by Steven

PHIL 539: Critical Philosophy of Race

Pennsylvania State University
Summer 2012

The study of philosophical issues raised by racism and by the concept of race and other related concepts.

This course provides an intensive examination of a major area of philosophical research: the philosophical examination of racism and of our thinking about race. It will investigate philosophical debates about such topics as mixed-race identity, going beyond the Black-White binary, the distinction between racism and xenophobia, the distinction between race and ethnicity, the debate about the reality of race, as well as questions about the nature and genealogy of racism. The course will have a historical component that will show how thinking in terms of the concept of race first developed and was transformed across time as well as addressing contemporary issues that includes an examination both of the dominant theories and definitions or racial identity and of ethical and political questions raised by the persistence of the notion of race. The course will also examine debates about the complicity of certain canonical figures in the history of philosophy, such as Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the conceptualization of race and the spread of philosophical racism. In addition to these two philosophers the following authors will be among those studied: Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Frederick Douglass, Anténor Firmin, W. E. B. Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, Alain Locke, Paulette Nardal, Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Anthony Kwame Appiah, Gloria Anzaldúa, Bernard Boxill, and Angela Davis. Race will be examined in its relation to other ways of thinking about human difference, including class, gender, nationality, religion, and sexuality. Attention will be given to diverse experiences in the US context, such as those of African Americans, Latina/os, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Irish Americans, and so on. In addition to examining the role race has played and continues to play in the United States of America, the ways in which race is approached in other parts of the world, for example in China, will also be the subject of investigation. The course content will vary, dependent upon the instructor.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Visualizando la Conciencia Mestiza: The Relation of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Mestiza Consciousness to Mexican American Performance and Poster Art

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2012-03-22 23:37Z by Steven

Visualizando la Conciencia Mestiza: The Relation of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Mestiza Consciousness to Mexican American Performance and Poster Art

University of South Florida
53 pages

Maria Cristina Serrano

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Liberal Arts Department of Humanities and Cultural Studies College of Arts and  Sciences University of South Florida

This thesis explores Gloria Anzaldúa’s notion of mestiza consciousness and its relation to Mexican American performance and poster art. It examines how the traditional conceptions of mestizo identity were redefined by Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera in an attempt to eradicate oppression through a change of consciousness. Anzaldua’s conceptions are then applied to Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s performance art discussing the intricacies and complexities of his performances as examples of mestiza consciousness. This thesis finally analyzes various Mexican American posters in relation to both Anzaldúa and Gomez-Peña’s art works. It demonstrates that the similarities in the artist’s treatment of hybridity illustrate a progressive change in worldview, thus exhibit mestiza consciousness.

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Gloria Anzaldúa’s Mestiza Consciousness
  • Chapter 2: The Relation of Mestiza Consciousness to Guillermo Gomez-Peña’s Border Brujo and The Couple in a Cage
  • Chapter 3: The Creative Synthesis in Mexican American Poster Art
  • Conclusions
  • References

List of Figures

  • Figure 2.1: Still from Border Brujo
  • Figure 2.2: Gomez-Peña as Border Brujo
  • Figure 2.3: Fusco and Gomez-Peña in Couple in the Cage
  • Figure 2.4: Close-up of performers
  • Figure 3.1: Andrew Sermeno, Huelga! (Strike!)
  • Figure 3.2: Unknown, Tierra o Muerte! Venceremos
  • Figure 3.3: Diego Rivera, The History of Mexico: The Ancient Indian World
  • Figure 3.4: David Alfaro Siqueiros, Cuauhtemoc Against the Myth
  • Figure 3.5: Malaquias Montoya, Vietnam, Aztlán
  • Figure 3.6: Xavier Miramontes, Boycott Grapes (Boicotea las Uvas)
  • Figure 3.7: Rodolfo “Rudy: Cuellar, Bilingual Education Says Twice as Much
  • Figure 3.8: Jose Montoya, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez, and Louie “The Foot” Gonzalez, Jose Montoya’s Pachuco Art: A Historical Update
  • Figure 3.9: Victor Ochoa, Border Bingo
  • Figure 3.10: Laura Molina, Cihualyaomiquiz, The Jaguar
  • Figure 3.11: Tina Hernandez, Ya Basta!
  • Figure 3.12: DC Comics, Wonder Woman
  • Figure 3.13: J. Howard Mitchell, We Can Do It

Read the entire thesis  here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Exploring Gloria Anzaldúa’s Methodology in Borderlands/La Frontera—The New Mestiza

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2011-11-19 03:19Z by Steven

Exploring Gloria Anzaldúa’s Methodology in Borderlands/La Frontera—The New Mestiza

Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge
Volume IV, Special Issue, Summer 2006
pages 87-94
ISSN: 1540-5699

Jorge Capetillo-Ponce, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Massachusetts, Boston

Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera—The New Mestiza does not fit into the usual critical categories simply because she follows inclination of interest, as opposed to working at achieving systematization. Not only does she shift continually from analysis to meditation, and refuse to recognize disciplinary barriers, but she speaks poetically even when dealing with cultural, political, and social issues. Indeed her method, like Simmel’s, is more akin to “style” in art than it is to “analysis” or “inquiry” in the social sciences. A critic proclaims her/his own incompetence, however, if the mere fact that a text has a certain interdisciplinary quality scares him/her away from her/his rightful task of elucidating its various historical, philosophical, sociological, psychological, and literary elements. In this article, I herewith take up that pleasant task, via this brief sketch pointing us toward a deeper comprehension of Anzaldúa’s Borderlands.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Bridging: How Gloria Anzaldúa’s Life and Work Transformed Our Own

Posted in Anthologies, Biography, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2011-11-13 19:15Z by Steven

Bridging: How Gloria Anzaldúa’s Life and Work Transformed Our Own

University of Texas Press
April 2011
292 pages
6 x 9 in., 6 b&w photos

Edited by:

AnaLouise Keating, Professor of Women’s Studies
Texas Woman’s University

Gloria González-López, Associate Professor of Sociology, and Faculty Associate
Center for Mexican American Studies
Center for Women’s and Gender Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
University of Texas, Austin

The inspirational writings of cultural theorist and social justice activist Gloria Anzaldúa have empowered generations of women and men throughout the world. Charting the multiplicity of Anzaldúa’s impact within and beyond academic disciplines, community trenches, and international borders, Bridging presents more than thirty reflections on her work and her life, examining vibrant facets in surprising new ways and inviting readers to engage with these intimate, heartfelt contributions.

Bridging is divided into five sections: The New Mestizas: “transitions and transformations”; Exposing the Wounds: “You gave me permission to fly in the dark”; Border Crossings: Inner Struggles, Outer Change; Bridging Theories: Intellectual Activism with/in Borders; and “Todas somos nos/otras”: Toward a “politics of openness.” Contributors, who include Norma Elia Cantú, Elisa Facio, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Aída Hurtado, Andrea Lunsford, Denise Segura, Gloria Steinem, and Mohammad Tamdgidi, represent a broad range of generations, professions, academic disciplines, and national backgrounds. Critically engaging with Anzaldúa’s theories and building on her work, they use virtual diaries, transformational theory, poetry, empirical research, autobiographical narrative, and other genres to creatively explore and boldly enact future directions for Anzaldúan studies.

A book whose form and content reflect Anzaldúa’s diverse audience, Bridging perpetuates Anzaldúa’s spirit through groundbreaking praxis and visionary insights into culture, gender, sexuality, religion, aesthetics, and politics. This is a collection whose span is as broad and dazzling as Anzaldúa herself.

Table of Conents

  • Con profunda gratitud
  • Building Bridges, Transforming Loss, Shaping New Dialogues: Anzaldúan Studies for the Twenty-First Century (AnaLouise Keating and Gloria González-López)
  • I. The New Mestizas: “transitions and transformations”
    • 1. Bridges of conocimiento: Una conversación con Gloria Anzaldúa (Lorena M. P. Gajardo)
    • 2. A Letter to Gloria Anzaldúa Written from 30, Feet and 25 Years after Her “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd-World Women Writers” (ariel robello)
    • 3. Deconstructing the Immigrant Self: The Day I Discovered I Am a Latina (Anahí Viladrich)
    • 4. My Path of Conocimiento: How Graduate School Transformed Me into a Nepantlera (Jessica Heredia)
    • 5. Aprendiendo a Vivir/Aprendiendo a Morir (Norma Elia Cantú)
    • 6. Making Face, Rompiendo Barreras: The Activist Legacy of Gloria E. Anzaldúa (Aída Hurtado)
  • II. Exposing the Wounds: “You gave me permission to fly into the dark”
    • 7. Anzaldúa, Maestra (Sebastián José Colón-Otero)
    • 8. “May We Do Work That Matters”: Bridging Gloria Anzaldúa across Borders (Claire Joysmith)
    • 9. A Call to Action: Spiritual Activism . . . an Inevitable Unfolding (Karina L. Céspedes)
    • 10. Gloria Anzaldúa and the Meaning of Queer (Héctor Domínguez-Ruvalcaba)
    • 11. Breaking Our Chains: Achieving Nos/otras Consciousness (Lei Zhang)
    • 12. Conocimiento and Healing: Academic Wounds, Survival, and Tenure (Gloria González-López)
  • III. Border Crossings: Inner Struggles, Outer Change
    • 13. Letters from Nepantla: Writing through the Responsibilities and Implications of the Anzaldúan Legacy (Michelle Kleisath)
    • 14. Challenging Oppressive Educational Practices: Gloria Anzaldúa on My Mind, in My Spirit (Betsy Eudey)
    • 15. Living Transculturation: Confessions of a Santero Sociologist (Glenn Jacobs)
    • 16. Acercándose a Gloria Anzaldúa to Attempt Community (Paola Zaccaria)
    • 17. Learning to Live Together: Bridging Communities, Bridging Worlds (Shelley Fisher Fishkin)
    • 18. Risking the Vision, Transforming the Divides: Nepantlera Perspectives on Academic Boundaries, Identities, and Lives (AnaLouise Keating)
  • IV. Bridging Theories: Intellectual Activism with/in Borders
    • 19. “To live in the borderlands means you” (Mariana Ortega)
    • 20. A Modo de Testimoniar: Borderlands, Papeles, and U.S. Academia (Esther Cuesta)
    • 21. On Borderlands and Bridges: An Inquiry into Gloria Anzaldúa’s Methodology (Jorge Capetillo-Ponce)
    • 22. For Gloria, Para Mi (Mary Catherine Loving)
    • 23. Chicana Feminist Sociology in the Borderlands (Elisa Facio and Denise A. Segura)
    • 24. Embracing Borderlands: Gloria Anzaldúa and Writing Studies (Andrea A. Lunsford)
  • V. Todas Somos Nos/otras: Toward a “Politics of Openness”
    • 25. Hurting, Believing, and Changing the World: My Faith in Gloria Anzaldúa (Suzanne Bost)
    • 26. Feels Like “Carving Bone”: (Re)Creating the Activist-Self, (Re)Articulating Transnational Journeys, while Sifting through Anzaldúan Thought (Kavitha Koshy)
    • 27. Shifting (Kelli Zaytoun)
    • 28. “Darkness, My Night”: The Philosophical Challenge of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Aesthetics of the Shadow (María DeGuzmán)
    • 29. The Simultaneity of Self- and Global Transformations: Bridging with Anzaldúa’s Liberating Vision (Mohammad H. Tamdgidi)
    • 30. For Gloria Anzaldúa . . . Who Left Us Too Soon (Gloria Steinem)
    • 31. She Eagle: For Gloria Anzaldúa (Gloria Steinem)
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Works Cited
  • Published Writings by Gloria E. Anzaldúa
  • Contributors’ Biographies
  • Index
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The one-drop aesthetic: How literary formalism reinvented race in the United States

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2011-06-05 02:02Z by Steven

The one-drop aesthetic: How literary formalism reinvented race in the United States

Harvard University
233 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3365201
ISBN: 9781109254617

Kevin Brian Birmingham

A dissertation presented by Kevin Brian Birmingham to The Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the subject of English.

The One-Drop Aesthetic argues that late twentieth-century theories of race and identity are translations of the early twentieth century’s aesthetic formalism, the New Criticism. The first cohesive formalism in the United States was an aesthetic ideology shaped by the imperfections of the South, which the southern New Critics took as a social model for their aesthetic ideals. They imagined literature not as a solid structure or an organic wholeness but as a welter of contingencies—a terrain that, like the South, was besieged by science and industry and whose beauty resided in fragments and ashes. The New Criticism was largely a dialogue between Allen Tate’s faith in transcendent wholeness and Ransom’s attention to art’s “infinite residue.”

The southern institution capable of relating fragments to organic wholes as well as bringing the idealized past into the industrialized present was, perhaps surprisingly, the cornerstone of segregation: the one-drop rule. A guiding principle of American race ideology was the belief that a trace of blackness is powerful enough to constitute blackness itself . Though it was a powerful weapon of oppression, several American writers in the twentieth century turned the implications of the one-drop rule into aesthetic virtues. Abiding, contaminating racial traces provided not only a model for cultural continuity over time and for imagining parts as transcendent wholes, but it intensified the complexity of W. E. B. Du Bois’s double consciousness, a modern American version of both Hegel’s self-consciousness and Friedrich Schiller’s aesthetics.

This project covers a fifty-year period from the New Criticism of the 1930s to the New Mestiza of the 1980s. Several writers used the idea of overwhelming racial traces to reframe the European aesthetic ideals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in immediate social terms. William Faulkner’s powerful imagination of the one-drop aesthetic in his 1936 novel Absalom, Absalom! was foundational, and the unlikely inheritor of Faulkner was James Baldwin, who amplifies Faulkner’s race-based apocalyptic mode in his essays. This dissertation then turns to the central importance of the racially-mixed Schwarzkommando in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973). It ends with a discussion of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987), which provides yet another vision of a lost aesthetic society recoverable from traces of both memory and blood.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One – Hellenic Dixie: The Soil of American Formalism
  • Chapter Two – The Master/Trash Dialectic: William Faulkner and the Origin of an American Aesthetic
  • Chapter Three – “History’s Ass Pocket”: The Bind of Identity and Aesthetics in James Baldwin
  • Chapter Four – Revolutionaries of the Trace: Thomas Pynchon’s Schwarzkommando and the One-Drop Sublime
  • Chapter Five – Gods Out of Entrails: The Old Aesthetic of the New Mestiza
  • Works Cited

Purchase the dissertation here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Re-articulating the New Mestiza

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2011-06-03 03:46Z by Steven

Re-articulating the New Mestiza

Journal of International Women’s Studies
Vol 12, #2 (March 2011)
Special Issue: Winning and Short-listed Entries from the 2009 Feminist and Women’s Studies Association Annual Student Essay Competition
pages 61-74

Zalfa Feghali
University of Nottingham

This essay provides an overview, critique, and the beginning of a refiguration of Gloria Anzaldúa’s theorization of the new mestiza as set out in her seminal 1987 book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. By examining both Anzaldúa’s precursors and the articulations of hybrid identities of her contemporaries, this essay depicts the complex dynamic that characterizes the mestiza’s need to develop, beyond borders and attempts to fashion a more contemporary, transnational mestiza. Using the writing and criticism of Françoise Lionnet alongside Anzaldúa’s and other critics, and utilizing postcolonial and feminist theories, this essay hopes to provide an alternative articulation to conventional understandings of hybridity and mestizaje in contemporary thought.


The purpose of this essay is to provide an overview, a critique, and the beginning of a refiguration of Gloria Anzaldúa’s theorization of the new mestiza. Anzaldúa’s mestiza exists in borderlands, and is “neither hispana india negra española / ni gabacha;”1 rather, she is “mestiza, mulata, half-breed / caught in the crossfire between camps / while carrying all five races on [her] back / not knowing which side to turn to, run from” (Borderlands/La Frontera 216). However, according to Anzaldúa, and despite the difficulties engendered by her very existence, the mestiza is also a figure of enormous potential, as her multiplicity allows a new kind of consciousness to emerge. This mestiza consciousness moves beyond the binary relationships and dichotomies that characterize traditional modes of thought, and seeks to build bridges between all minority communities in order to achieve social and political change. Anzaldúa locates the new mestiza consciousness at a site that, as Françoise Lionnet suggests, “is not a territory staked out by exclusionary practices” (“The Politics and Aesthetics of Métissage” 5).

Although there are clear precursors to Anzaldúa’s work, one of which I discuss at length below, many critics and thinkers choose her work to engage with. This has to do with her unique place in the “canon” of Chicana/Mexican American writing—what she calls the “Moveimento Macha.” Writing from the position(s) of queer Chicana womanhood, code-switching between English and Spanish, and mixing poetry and prose, Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, at the time of publication in 1987, represented an important break from the mainly male-dominated pool of “traditional” Chicano writers and inspired a generation of women, Chicana and non-Chicana alike, to write about their experiences as border-crossers with hybrid identities. Anzaldúa’s work remains popular because it retains much of its original subversive potential, its cross-disciplinarity providing new and varied methodologies to analyze borders. In many ways, it has also played an important role in refocusing American studies as a transnational discipline. In her presidential address to the American Studies Association in 2004, Shelley Fisher Fishkin identified Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera as epitomizing the transnational nature of American studies, and credited her work for opening up a space for “American studies scholars [to] increasingly recognize that understanding requires looking beyond the nation‟s borders, and understanding how the nation is seen from vantage points beyond its borders” (“Crossroads of Cultures” 20)…

…A “Cosmic Race”

In his original essay of 1925, Vasconcelos lauds the people inhabiting the area of Mexico for their mestizo/a culture, which, as Rafael Pérez-Torres has put it, “locates itself within a complex third space neither Mexican nor American but in a transnational space of both potential and restraint” (“Alternate Geographies and the Melancholy of Mestizaje” 322). In its traditional meaning, mestizaje “reflects a simultaneously racial, sexual, and national memory, an embodiment of colonization and conquest” (Bost, Mulattas and Mestizas 9). In fact, one of the reasons that Jose Vasconcelos won popular acclaim for his theories was the attractiveness of the idea that an entire population, which literally embodies a history of violence, can forge an identity that moved beyond such a violent history—and flourish. Anzaldúa herself refers to this very specific history in her hope that the emergence of the new mestiza will bring an end to rape, violence, and war.

For the purposes of his essay, Vasconcelos sees this group as the first stage in the creation of a new, cosmic race that will eventually take on characteristics and subsume genetic streams from all the races on earth. This cosmic race will take on the best or most desirable traits from each respective race. Eventually, according to Vasconcelos, the lines between the “original” races will blur to the point that any one individual’s “racial heritage” would be completely indistinguishable from another‟s, thus becoming the ultimate mestizo/a (something akin what critics would now call a “post-ethnic” or “post-racial” world). This emphasis on the special character and potential of the mestiza/o Mexican subject has made Vasconcelos‟ theory very attractive to Mexican and Chicano/a activists, particularly nationalists. As many Chicano/a activists have done, Anzaldúa uses a narrow interpretation of Vasconcelos’ essay in the hope of finding a solid theoretical grounding for her own project. However, this has brought her much criticism, as Vasconcelos’ theory has been rigorously undermined. As Didier Jaén puts it:

It is true that mestizaje is one of the central concepts of the Vasconcelos essay, but of course, it is also clear that the racial mixture Vasconcelos refers to is much wider, much more encompassing, than what can be understood by the mestizaje of the Mexican or Chicano…But even if we expand the concept of mestizaje to include all other races, this biological mixture would not fulfill what Vasconcelos expresses with the idea of the Cosmic race (“Introduction” xvi).

Clearly, Vasconcelos’ utopian vision of mestizaje leading to a new, privileged subject that lives in a race-less world does not hold up theoretically or pragmatically. For example, he clearly delineates the “four major races of the world” before envisioning a fifth, cosmic race which embraces the four “original” races of the world. Despite the fact that the original text was written in 1925 and must be read with one eye trained on that time’s theoretical and scientific reach, it is problematic in the way it combines scientific language and terms with a more mystical outlook (something that is echoed in Anzaldúa‟s work, albeit for a different purpose). It thus presents itself as scientific fact and knowledge while in fact holding little or no solid scientific basis.

My main objection to Vasconcelos’ analysis comes from the implications of his own underlying premise, namely, that there are four races of humans: the Black, the Indian (as in American native), the Mongol, and the White. Out of these four races, Vasconcelos imagines that the fifth, mestizo, cosmic race will resemble a symphony:

Voices that bring accents from Atlantis; depths contained in the pupil of the red man, who knew so much, so many thousand years ago, but now seems to have forgotten everything. His soul resembles the old Mayan cenote of green waters, laying deep and still…This infinite quietude is stirred with the drop put in our blood by the Black, eager for sensual joy, intoxicated with dances and unbridled lust…There also appears the Mongol, with the mystery of his slanted eyes that see everything according to a strange angle…The clear mind of the White, that resembles his skin and his dreams, also intervenes…

Clearly Vasconcelos’ theory is based on fundamental racism on his part. Yet despite having borne heavy criticism for his theory, Vasconcelos’ essay was reprinted in 1948 and became a rallying point for Chicano activist and Mexican nationalist movements. In addition to Vasconcelos’ popularity as an alternative Mexican historian, this is most likely why Anzaldúa espouses his theory. However, as I plan to show, Anzaldúa’s work also falls into many of the same traps as Vasconcelos’. It has been important to look at Vasconcelos’ work in such depth as I will show that Anzaldúa’s work, while in many ways vastly different, may have the effect of re-inscribing Vasconcelos’ racism…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Mestizo Nations: Culture, Race, and Conformity in Latin American Literature

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2010-10-12 21:27Z by Steven

Mestizo Nations: Culture, Race, and Conformity in Latin American Literature

University of Arizona Press
May 2002
161 pages
9.6 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
ISBN-10: 0816521921
ISBN-13: 978-0816521920

Juan E. De Castro, Assistant Professor of Literature
The New School

Nationality in Latin America has long been entwined with questions of racial identity. Just as American-born colonial elites grounded their struggle for independence from Spain and Portugal in the history of Amerindian resistance, constructions of nationality were based on the notion of the fusion of populations heterogeneous in culture, race, and language. But this rhetorical celebration of difference was framed by a real-life pressure to assimilate into cultures always defined by Iberian American elites. In Mestizo Nations, Juan De Castro explores the construction of nationality in Latin American and Chicano literature and thought during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Focusing on the discourse of mestizaje—which proposes the creation of a homogenous culture out of American Indian, black, and Iberian elements—he examines a selection of texts that represent the entire history and regional landscape of Latin American culture in its Western, indigenous, and neo-African traditions from Independence to the present. Through them, he delineates some of the ambiguities and contradictions that have beset this discourse. Among texts considered are the Indianist novel Iracema by the nineteenth-century Brazilian author José de Alencar; the Tradiciones peruanas, Peruvian Ricardo Palma’s fictionalizations of national difference; and historical and sociological essays by the Peruvian Marxist José Carlos Mariátegui and the Brazilian intellectual Gilberto Freyre. And because questions raised by this discourse are equally relevant to postmodern concerns with national and transnational heterogeneity, De Castro also analyzes such recent examples as the Cuban dance band Los Van Van’s use of Afrocentric lyrics; Richard Rodriguez’s interpretations of North American reality; and points of contact and divergence between José María Arguedas’s novel The Fox from Up Above and the Fox from Down Below and writings of Gloria Anzaldúa and Julia Kristeva. By updating the concept of mestizaje as a critical tool for analyzing literary text and cultural trends—incorporating not only race, culture, and nationality but also gender, language, and politics—De Castro shows the implications of this Latin American discursive tradition for current critical debates in cultural and area studies. Mestizo Nations contains important insights for all Latin Americanists as a tool for understanding racial relations and cultural hybridization, creating not only an important commentary on Latin America but also a critique of American life in the age of multiculturalism.

Read the preface here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Patrolling Borders: Hybrids, Hierarchies and the Challenge of Mestizaje

Posted in Articles, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-01-23 19:32Z by Steven

Patrolling Borders: Hybrids, Hierarchies and the Challenge of Mestizaje

Political Research Quarterly
Vol. 57, No. 4
pages 597-607
DOI: 10.1177/106591290405700408

Cristina Beltran, Associate Professor of Political Science
Haverford College

Hybridity” has become a popular concept among scholars of critical race theory and identity, particularly those studying Chicano identity. Some scholars claim that hybridity—premised on multiplicity and fluidity—represents a new approach to subjectivity, challenging the idea of a stable and unified subject. In “Patrolling Borders,” I argue that scholars are mistaken in their belief that “hybrid” or “bordered” identities are inherently transgressive or antiessentialist. By constructing a genealogy of Chicano hybridity (i.e., mestizaje) I show how Chicano nationalists produced a politicized subjectivity during the Chicano Movement that emerged as the basis for recent notions of hybridity put forward by writers like Gloria Anzaldúa. By tracing the historical construction of mestizaje, I show how hybridity continues to be a discursive practice capable of comfortably coexisting with dreams of privileged knowledge, order, and wholeness.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , ,