Weak first draft of conclusion (it looks fine here but I don’t think I can include all of this)

That point has been raised before (Castillo/Tabuenca) and responded to by Mariana Ortega. The problem is twofold. One issue, as scholars like Irwin (2001), Castillo and Tabuenca (2002), Saldaña-Portillo (2003), Castillo (2006) and Medina (2008) have noted, is that the borderlands in Anzaldúa’s model are very specifically the United States side of the Mexican border. This can be seen by the references in the text, all on this side including the Mexican ones, insofar as they correspond to those chosen for the imagined territory of Aztlán, also generated from the United States. This, Irwin points out, replicates problems in the U. S. historiography of the area. I would add that the choice of references from south of the border doesn’t make Anzaldúa’s case: they are the references elites use to oppose US, yet whiten. (Castillo: it’s a nation-building concept, not a resistant one; I would add that it replicates effort to be native yet modern, assert self yet negotiate with center, that is the hallmark of so many nation building texts.) Second problem: The borderlands as fuzzy category or vague concept, abstract enough to be applicable to everything. When it’s that, AND it’s also the US, then it’s just universalizing the US – pace Ortega.

Postcolonial criticism privileged the idea of the hybrid because of the hybridity of the colonial subject, and borderlands seemed like a laboratory for this in the postmodern / poststructuralist environment where we also wanted a decentered subject. Now that decentered subject must also be transnational. I think the Anzaldua text is more interesting as an example of a text on borders; when we try to make it into a global model it falls apart.

So: what does it do? 1. Revise who the Chicana can be, getting out of sexism, fighting racism. 2. Women’s liberation in a transnational sense. 3. Revise what the U.S. is. 4. Revise what Spanish is. 5. Speak as colonial subject. Very well: these things are powerful. But the borderlands-as-solution to everything doesn’t actually work—it is what people have liked, but again, it is where the argument falls apart. And the problem isn’t with the text itself as much as it is with what many have wanted it to do, in proposing a global model (global transnational revolutionary subject). The things it does well, it does—as is the case with all the best and most classic literature—because it speaks not from the globe but from a place.

(Things to add in above: on mestizaje as a result of gender oppression – it is key in a feminist text; mestizaje does not have happy feminist origins.) And I should get this Yemoja book, for the chapter on Anzaldúa and in particular, its references. (It’s at LSU as an e-book, and it’s at Tulane.)


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