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    Book Description:

    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,Bridgingpresents 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.

    Bridgingis 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,Bridgingperpetuates 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73471-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Con profunda gratitud
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Building Bridges, Transforming Loss, Shaping New Dialogues: Anzaldúan Studies for the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 1-16)

    In this epigraph, drawn from “now let us shift . . . the path of conocimiento . . . inner work, public acts,” an essay written near the end of her life, Gloria Anzaldúa emphasizes the potentially redemptive power of suffering as she enacts a movement from the personal to the communal. But what does it mean, to “redeem” our “most painful experiences”? How do we “share” pain? How do we transform pain into “something valuable,” into something that empowers ourselves and others? It can be tempting to ignore such bold, optimistic statements or to dismiss them as unrealistic and...

  5. PART I The New Mestizas:: “transitions and transformations”

    • CHAPTER 1 Bridges of conocimiento: Una conversación con Gloria Anzaldúa
      (pp. 19-25)

      Beyond and more powerful than marginalization is solidarity, and I have found a place of rewarding fruition en tus palabras y conocimiento; your approach of autohistoria-teoría speaks to me as an alternative path to conocimiento. It crosses the divide between “intellectual” activity and our inner knowledge, making us look at the actual effects, the emotional consequences of being subjected to processes of inferiorized subjectivation. For you, Gloria, there is no divide, no contradiction between writing history and speaking about the effects of that history upon our bodies, our souls. You taught me that the soul knows and that the intellect...

    • CHAPTER 2 A Letter to Gloria Anzaldúa Written from 30,000 Feet and 25 Years after Her “Speaking In Tongues: A Letter to 3rd-World Women Writers”
      (pp. 26-32)

      Tomorrow I will present my “expertise” on the poet’s life—not just any poet’s life but thewomanofcolorpoet’s life—towomenofcolorwho want to believe that writing is not in vain. I have been invited byMissKristina Wong, the bravest performance artist I know. It is an honor to be called to this community center in the Valley (a place I avoided due to my fear of the 405 while I lived in L.A.). I have planned everything, the time I will spend commuting, my opening remarks, the warm-up exercises, my outfit, and most of all the hope...

    • CHAPTER 3 Deconstructing the Immigrant Self: The Day I Discovered I Am a Latina
      (pp. 33-38)

      Early on during the beginnings of my academic career in the United States, about twelve years ago, I became interested in Anzaldúa’s work, as I was struck by her original thinking, her compassionate understanding of Latinas’ struggles, and her work toward proposing bridges between our different political and personal “selves.”

      My arrival to U.S. soil in the mid-1990s brought exciting discoveries and unexpected misperceptions about my individual persona. A single Argentine woman in my late twenties, I suddenly found myself living in the “most exciting” city in the world, secretly believing that unseen opportunities would be waiting for me just...

    • CHAPTER 4 My Path of Conocimiento: How Graduate School Transformed Me into a Nepantlera
      (pp. 39-44)

      It took me three days to read Gloria Anzaldúa’s essay “now let us shift . . . the path of conocimiento . . . inner work, public acts” inthis bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation.The essay was assigned in a graduate-level Women’s Studies course titled Latinas in the Americas that I enrolled in because it was with my mentor, Dr. Irene Lara, and I wanted to read Anzaldúa’sBorderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.When I read “La conciencia de la mestiza/Towards a New Consciousness” I knew Ineededto read Anzaldúa. I am a mixed-race woman...

    • CHAPTER 5 Aprendiendo a Vivir/Aprendiendo a Morir
      (pp. 45-48)

      Although we grew up only a few miles from each other along the U.S.-Mexico border, she in the Valley and I in Laredo, I didn’t hear of Gloria Anzaldúa until the 1980s at a conference in Michigan where she was scheduled to speak and had problems with the patriarchal structure of the organization and the conference. It was the National Association of Chicano Studies (NACS) meeting in East Lansing, and her scheduled talk was in a room where there was nothing going on. I searched for the session and never found it. In 1980 I had returned to my border...

    • CHAPTER 6 Making Face, Rompiendo Barreras: The Activist Legacy of Gloria E. Anzaldúa
      (pp. 49-62)

      Late in the day on May 16, 2004, many of us who were familiar with Gloria Anzaldúa’s work received an e-mail from Profesora Norma Alarcón from the University of California, Berkeley, with the following message:

      Dear Friends:

      With great sorrow I pass on the news of Gloria Anzaldúa’s death. She was found dead in her house by a friend who came by on Thursday of last week. Her family is taking her back to Texas. . . . She was finishing a book for Routledge. She is a great loss to us. A woman of great spirit—the Chicanita from...

  6. PART II Exposing the Wounds:: “You gave me permission to fly into the dark”

    • CHAPTER 7 Anzaldúa, Maestra
      (pp. 65-67)

      I have been searching and searching and searching. I have been looking through every window. Following every pathway. I have cried to every god and goddess on this earth.

      My tongue got dry from asking. My eyes burned out from reading. My mom cansada de tantos huesos milenarios arrastrados. My mom looked at me: “I don’t know what you are, mi’ja.” “I don’t know what you are, mi’jo.” I’ve been looking and looking for my mirror. I’ve gazed at every little crystal, every broken reflection. I found nothing. I found nothing.

      I swallowed all the papers looking for my race,...

    • CHAPTER 8 “May We Do Work That Matters”: Bridging Gloria Anzaldúa across Borders
      (pp. 68-73)

      I think of you quietly, Gloria, as I sit here today, in a conference room, about to give a talk titled “Sueños, pesadillas y heridas: Mexicanidades y chicanidades en transición” in a symposium: La cultura contemporánea en Estados Unidos. Panelists talk about U.S. culture from a Mexican perspective—más bien dicho, a Central Mexico, Mexico City, La Capital perspective, where chilango-centrism prevails. And I wonder once again which margins can be reached by speaking out at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the largest public university in Mexico, the oldest on the continent.¹ Panelists talk about Manifest Destiny, the...

    • CHAPTER 9 A Call to Action: Spiritual Activism . . . an Inevitable Unfolding
      (pp. 74-79)

      When I read Gloria Anzaldúa’sBorderlands/La Fronteraduring my junior year in college I immediately responded to her mapping of a “border consciousness”; it gave me a way to express the deep disconnection I felt as a daughter not of the Cuban middle class but of the seldom-acknowledged racially mixed Cuban working-poor immigrants who came to the United States in the 1980s to the open disdain of more established Cubans and non-Cubans alike. Although I hailed from a different generation and cultural background, Anzaldúa’s writing inspired and guided me through graduate school and then while teaching my own undergraduate classes....

    • CHAPTER 10 Gloria Anzaldúa and the Meaning of Queer
      (pp. 80-84)

      In the fall of 1993, during my first semester as a master of arts student in Hispanic literature at New Mexico State University, one of my professors recommended I readBorderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestizaby Gloria Anzaldúa.¹ The book got my attention in more than one way with its amalgam of poetry, political statements, intimate diary entries of resentment, essays of mythological interpretation, and colloquial word games. I talked to my professor about the inaccuracy of some data referring to pre-Columbian religion. He observed that in my reading I was only looking for mistakes and that I did not...

    • CHAPTER 11 Breaking Our Chains: Achieving Nos/otras Consciousness
      (pp. 85-90)

      I first encountered Gloria Anzaldúa’s work as a graduate student in a literary theory class. After spending most of the semester deciphering writings by such luminaries as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Homi Bhabha, it was refreshing to finally encounter clear, vibrant prose. My eyes flew with the lines; my fingers could almost touch the thick, fullbodied emotions streaming out of the pages. I kept turning the pages, amazed. Could she write in such an intensely personal, metaphoric way and still be anthologized alongside obscure postmodern philosophers inThe Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism?I putBorderlands/La Fronteraon...

    • CHAPTER 12 Conocimiento and Healing: Academic Wounds, Survival, and Tenure
      (pp. 91-100)

      “Congratulations on your promotion to associate professor with tenure!!!! I’ll look forward to having you as a colleague for many years to come.” I received this note from my department chair in an e-mail dated December 18, 2007. For about a week or two, I had been waiting to hear the official announcement. I felt blissfully happy and profoundly grateful when I received the news of my tenure. I experienced a deep sense of relief that I did not have words for, and I wanted to have a good cry, but I just couldn’t. Gradually I took in the joyful...

  7. PART III Border Crossings:: Inner Struggles, Outer Change

    • CHAPTER 13 Letters from Nepantla: Writing through the Responsibilities and Implications of the Anzaldúan Legacy
      (pp. 103-110)

      Dear Gloria y AnaLouise,

      Having received your e-mail informing me that the book manuscript would be going into production soon, I decided to re-read over the original piece I wrote for your collection back in 2006, when I was teaching in Tibet. I was not surprised to discover that I am now deeply critical of the many assertions I made then. I am now a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Washington, and my dissertation project focuses on white privilege and the production of expert knowledge on Asia. In my current work, I explore how, as a white...

    • CHAPTER 14 Challenging Oppressive Educational Practices: Gloria Anzaldúa on My Mind, in My Spirit
      (pp. 111-117)

      I was grading papers one morning in May 2004, and Gloria Anzaldúa’s voice was in my head (as it often, or perhaps always, is), recounting the experiences of Third World women writers. She tells me,

      Because white eyes do not want to know us, they do not bother to learn our language, the language which reflects us, our culture, our spirit. The schools we attended or didn’t attend did not give us the skills for writing nor the confidence that we were correct in using our class and ethnic languages. (“Speaking in Tongues” 165)

      She knew I needed to be...

    • CHAPTER 15 Living Transculturation: Confessions of a Santero Sociologist
      (pp. 118-126)

      These are the opening words, sprinkled with cool water, of the divination procedure—“ throwing coco” (coconut)— used by santeros and aleyos (non-initiates) when they address the orisha (the divinities of the Yoruba pantheon) or the eggun (spirits of the dead).¹ Here, as is customary, I propitiated Eleggua, the guardian of the crossroads, prior to addressing my patron orisha, Changó, whose permission I asked to write this piece because it entails saying things about the religion that might be unflattering, and while none of these are insults to the orisha themselves, out of respect for them I consulted Changó. The...

    • CHAPTER 16 Acercándose a Gloria Anzaldúa to Attempt Community
      (pp. 127-135)

      I came to know Gloria E. Anzaldúa toward the end of the 1980s through quotations that sounded very new and interesting, mostly fromThis Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Colorbut also in essays on cultural studies or feminist studies. In 1996, during one of my periodic study trips to the States, I bought a copy of Anzaldúa’sBorderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestizaand retrieved her other works in Harvard University’s Wiedner Library. I was struck by Anzaldúa’s skill in naming new formations and figurations. She elaborated a theory on commonality and fragmentation that helped me...

    • CHAPTER 17 Learning to Live Together: Bridging Communities, Bridging Worlds
      (pp. 136-141)

      I foundBorderlands/La Fronteraa few months after it came out on the shelf in Old Wives’ Tales, a feminist bookstore in San Francisco. Or it somehow found me. I could never be sure. In either case, I was convinced that fate had a hand in the matter. I was a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender in 1987–88, giving myself a total-immersion course in feminist cultural studies and working on a soon-to-be-aborted novel, whenBorderlands/La Fronteraentered my ken. I found it riveting, challenging, and brilliant. From the start I was proselytic: I...

    • CHAPTER 18 Risking the Vision, Transforming the Divides: Nepantlera Perspectives on Academic Boundaries, Identities, and Lives
      (pp. 142-152)

      In Anzaldúa’s writings, nepantla—a Náhuatl term meaning “in-between space”—indicates temporal, spatial, psychic, and/or intellectual points of liminality and potential transformation. During nepantla, individual and collective self-conceptions and worldviews areshatteredas apparently fixed categories—whether based on gender, ethnicity/“race,” sexuality, religion, or some combination of these categories and often others as well—are destabilized and slowly stripped away. As Anzaldúa explains, nepantla is “this birthing stage where you feel like you’re reconfiguring your identity and don’t know where you are. You used to be this person but now maybe you’re different in some way. You’re changing worlds and...

  8. PART IV Bridging Theories:: Intellectual Activism with/in Borders

    • CHAPTER 19 “To live in the borderlands means you”
      (pp. 155-157)

      Alive always, despite the body having given up at sixty-one, Gloria Anzaldúa remains here in this world as in the next, if there is one. Latina writers, dreamers, border-dwellers, poets, thinkers, queers, cactuswomen, feel that they can write and that there is someone who listens, who reads their words, words that owe part of their life to this Chicana word-magician who opened the doors to let us in.Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza continuesto shed book skins only to display new, shiny, lively ones. It is all that Anzaldúa probably wanted it to be: bridge, crossroads, red and black...

    • CHAPTER 20 A modo de testimoniar: Borderlands, Papeles, and U.S. Academia
      (pp. 158-164)

      Fall 2002: I encountered Gloria Anzaldúa’s work in my first semester of an M.A./Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature while experiencing the conflictive reality of sitting in university classrooms as an undocumented migrant in the United States. “La conciencia de la mestiza/Towards a New Consciousness” was a suggested reading in a feminist theory seminar. Disappointingly, it was merely glossed over, when I had hoped that I could feel more connected to the class discussions and contribute without having to quote other theorists to support my argument.Borderlands/La Fronterawas one of the few texts I encountered that discussed concrete and worldly...

    • CHAPTER 21 On Borderlands and Bridges: An Inquiry into Gloria Anzaldúa’s Methodology
      (pp. 165-171)

      The first time I readBorderlands/La Frontera,in 2001, I found myself irresistibly drawn to Gloria Anzaldúa’s theory of an emerging borderland culture. She surprised me at each new twist and turn of her text with her probing analysis and methodology of the emergence of a new mestiza consciousness and her tracing of the intercultural bridges that her emergence implies. I readBorderlandsagain and again and also such other works asthis bridge we call homeandInterviews/Entrevistas. I attribute this attraction to two central strands in my life’s fabric, the personal and the professional.

      As for the former,...

    • CHAPTER 22 For Gloria, Para Mí
      (pp. 172-174)

      I am suspicious of poets who claim to know the single impetus for any work. I suspect that Gloria, mi tía, la hermana de my mamá, y la hermana de my abuela, también, was similarly predisposed. I imagine her so because it comforts me to suppose that she too experienced seasons of wonder and seasons of little—and without any idea whom to curse or praise for the seasons filled with ripe, fleshy verse. Seasons alive with untamed verse. Or for the seasons barren of rhyme. (Signs: Fragile, bitter, insufficiently bound in punctuation; grammar-less verse.) Or how to tell the...

    • CHAPTER 23 Chicana Feminist Sociology in the Borderlands
      (pp. 175-181)

      In this essay we discuss the ways that Gloria Anzaldúa’s conceptualization of “borderlands” expanded our sociological imaginations. Trained as qualitative sociologists, we were well versed in feminist methods that emphasized women’s voices and experiences as critical analytical starting points. For us, Anzaldúa’s writings offered a new language that liberated the “ser” from the “estar”—that “to be” is formed by the politics of place and space in the borderlands. Liberated methodologically and linguistically, more and more Chicana activist scholars in sociology are moving beyond researchaboutChicanas to aChicana feminist sociologydedicated to social change. We examine key theoretical...

    • CHAPTER 24 Embracing Borderlands: Gloria Anzaldúa and Writing Studies
      (pp. 182-188)

      When I wrote to Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa in early 1996 to ask if I might talk with her about the relationship between her work and the disciplines of rhetoric and writing studies and postcolonial studies, she didn’t say “No” right away, but she wasn’t very enthusiastic, either. After all, rhetoric and writing studies have a long reputation of being deeply complicit with colonizing practices of reading and writing (and speaking, too, for that matter): you must read this, not that; you must write this way, not that way. “Especially in composition,” Anzaldúa pointed out, “rules are very strict: creating a...

  9. PART V Todas somos nos/otras:: Toward a “politics of openness”

    • CHAPTER 25 Hurting, Believing, and Changing the World: My Faith in Gloria Anzaldúa
      (pp. 191-196)

      I was raised, in part, by my Catholic grandmother, and I grew up caring for her increasingly disabled body.¹ She was a paradox: a feminist (at least in my terms) who went to college and worked full time as a nurse; she quit work after marrying at thirty and spent the rest of her life sitting with her rosary in front of the radio (and, later, television), raising her (and, later, her daughter’s) children. She started suffering from rheumatoid arthritis somewhere between the two sets of children, and the disease gradually crippled her. By the time I reached puberty, she...

    • CHAPTER 26 Feels Like “Carving Bone”: (Re) Creating the Activist-Self, (Re) Articulating Transnational Journeys, while Sifting through Anzaldúan Thought
      (pp. 197-203)

      At a very critical time in my life, in a graduate Women’s Studies classroom in Texas, I was introduced to Gloria Anzaldúa’s work. To say the least it was a life-changing encounter of epiphanic proportions. As the epigraph suggests, Anzaldúa made me want to reach into myself and create theory. Since then, throughout my emotional, spiritual, political, and theoretical growth, Anzaldúa’s writings have led the way. From articulating and validating my marginalized experiences to ensuring that I do not lose myself in oppositional stances, her words keep me afloat on a sea of in-betweenness—so much so that I have...

    • CHAPTER 27 Shifting
      (pp. 204-209)

      I asked Gloria Anzaldúa to help me write this essay. It wasn’t the first time I’d called on her to inspire me, but it was the first as mis muertos. No difference, really. She always seemed to me to be someone not of this world, even as she rested her tiny frame in a chair in our class circle, as real as each of us fervent graduate students. She asked us to introduce ourselves: “Tell me your purpose—not your major or where you’re from—but what your life means.”Motivated by the need to understand, you crave to be...

    • CHAPTER 28 “Darkness, My Night”: The Philosophical Challenge of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Aesthetics of the Shadow
      (pp. 210-217)

      I first came across Gloria Anzaldúa’s work in the fall of 1990, my fourth year in graduate school at Harvard University. The book wasMaking Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color,edited by Anzaldúa. Published in 1990, it contained pieces by Latina, Asian American, African American, and Native American women. Anzaldúa had written the introduction and included her essay “La conciencia de la mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness” from the earlierBorderlands/La Frontera.November 3, 1990, was the exact date I finished reading Haciendo Caras. I have a habit of penciling these kinds of...

    • CHAPTER 29 The Simultaneity of Self- and Global Transformations: Bridging with Anzaldúa’s Liberating Vision
      (pp. 218-225)

      “Bridging” is different from what Paulo Freire critiqued as the “banking system” of transmitting knowledge (57– 74). The “banking system,” in which one person “deposits” information into another person or people, is a one-directional, hierarchical monologue. In contrast, bridging is dialogic and assumes the existence and equal value of “banks” of knowledge on two (or more) sides of a conversation. Bridging is about sharing knowledges that are also independently growing. Bridging involves further dialogue arising from inner conversations. How could one truly appreciate the labors of another if one has not already tasted their liberating effects?

      Sadly, I did not...

    • CHAPTER 30 For Gloria Anzaldúa . . . Who Left Us Too Soon
      (pp. 226-229)

      When I first heard of Gloria Anzaldúa’s death, I had already lived nine years longer than she had. Now as I write this, I’ve had fourteen more years—and her death seems all the more unjust.

      The last words of hers I read were in a major essay she had written forthis bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation,the anthology she co-edited with AnaLouise Keating. She described and acted on her fierce determination to live and to write. Indeed, she was already angry at her body for betraying her with its need for constant blood balancing due...

    • CHAPTER 31 She Eagle: For Gloria Anzaldúa
      (pp. 230-230)

      This bridge called my back

      cradles Latina Black Asian Native

      women, hearts chanting

      feminism explodes

      shape shifts, renews its vows

      voices sin fronteras

      mestiza consciousness

      to stand on both sides of the shore

      at once, making bridges

      speaking in tongues

      Tejana lesbiana enamorada

      ideas estrellas

      el mundo zurdo

      enfrente atrás las lenguas

      de vida, tu alma

      your eyes the color

      of puddles made deep by your

      words, the earth’s sadness

      altars in the sky

      the priestess time travels, we

      light velas, reaching high...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 231-240)
  11. Glossary
    (pp. 241-244)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 245-252)
  13. Published Writings
    (pp. 253-256)
  14. Contributors’ Biographies
    (pp. 257-266)
  15. Index
    (pp. 267-276)