My outline

“Liminality” – p. 6

“Subaltern Representation” – p. 12

“Difference and Wholeness” – p. 19 [here check the Beverley reference]

“Mestizaje” – p. 24

“Beyond Hybridity” – p. 36


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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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Film on the Spanish Civil War

What would you teach for this? (Side note: McClennen’s Globalization and Latin American Cinema costs hundreds of dollars; if not, I might use it as a textbook for a different film course.)

La lengua de las mariposasRazaDragón rapide/Encontrarás dragonesCría cuervos¡Ay Carmela!Land and freedom – El laberinto del fauno – El espinazo del diablo – Soldados de Salamina – That film about Puig Antich

These and then there are historic ones here, some very important. There are a lot of other lists, and this has some good, old ones (as in, anarchist films from during the war)

  • Balada de la triste trompeta
  • Las bicicletas son para verano (Chávarri)
  • El bosc (Aibar)
  • El mar (Villaronga 2000)
  • Gernika
  • Los girasoles ciegos (Cuerda 2008)
  • Incierta gloria (Villaronga)
  • Libertarias (Aranda 1996)
  • Mientras dure la guerra (KEY)
  • La trinchera infinita (KEY)
  • La vaquilla (García Berlanga)
  • Pa negre (Villaronga 2010)
  • Pájaros de papel (Aragón)
  • La sierra de Teruel (Malraux 1938)
  • Vida en sombras (Llobet-Gràcia 1949


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Cecilia again

Glissant in Poétique de la relation talks about the mestizo as the one who confounds categories, disturbs whiteness. That’s not how they’re constructed in Spanish America, they’re a nation-building category. But it does seem to be how Cecilia works in Cecilia Valdés. Is this further evidence of that novel being written in the United States and furthermore, under a French-Caribbean influence? Did Villaverde read Mercier, L’Habitation Saint-Ybars, or were these two novels co-generated in some way?

The things of the Atlantic keep reappearing, like the repeating island; I’ve called them cane cultures. There is so much to think about.



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(María) Socorro Tabuenca (Córdoba)

Tabuenca has written a great deal more, but all of it would have to come by interlibrary loan, so I am saving that reading for the next time I write on Anzaldúa. In another key, this is her interesting syllabus.


Then there is the Robert Irwin article (see 518-519 on Anzaldúa, and the discussion of Murrieta scholarship as an case study for his argument). Border studies in the U.S. model erases the Mexican borderlands but also scholarship in Spanish. (It’s the problem of English vs. Comparative Literature — to be a comparativist, you must know what you are comparing, but people from the English department only do scholarship on things in English, otherwise they just appropriate the texts.)

If Anzaldúa is the perfect subaltern, the perfect transnational decolonizing subject, and her borderlands are a universalization of the U.S. borderlands, how does “transnational” mean anything except a U.S. takeover?

Then there is this piece that explains Aztlán but doesn’t think mestizaje or transculturation or the appropriation of gods are problematic at all. And this is that 1991 book, Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism.


(Also: Cornejo Polar. Irwin cites him as well. Everyone likes that piece. It burns me that he wrote that piece for our LASA panel, after talking to me about what was needed, and nobody knows it. Perhaps I will start saying it. I can prove it and I even have the post-it note in his handwriting that came with the original manuscript.)


Quoi d’autre? Ah yes — documentation of work and home tasks. If I included art and activism as categories, I would look much more flourishing, but it is with work and home tasks I struggle, so I will document there.


8:30A-6P professional meeting.


10A-5P followup on professional meeting, very slow because I was so tired.
10P-2A research/writing, slow because I was tired.


10A-2P combination of research/writing and followup on professional meeting, slow but steady.
2P is when my break started and I am coming back at 3:15.
3:15-4P research
4-5:15P lecture
6:15-12:15A research/writing but also reading other things … I would only count 3 of these hours, and probably shouldn’t count as much but I like to relax when I work. This means I spent 12 hours working, but 15 at work, and I’d discount 3-5 of those.

So: what did I do on this Monday, a weekday? Research and writing, I have a full draft of the paper now although it still needs some fixing. And a little professional service.


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Discerning darkness

Inspired by a Nation article on Toni Morrison: white literature is sprinkled with racial eruptions, that we are not supposed to see. But they are there to remind us that we are not the ones who will suffer from capitalism / colonialism / slavery. As noted, we are trained not to see them, but if we don’t look away, they are very revealing.

Should this be a title of or in my book? That discerning eye refers to the eye of the criollo who must notice the presence of the racial other so as to ward it off, keep it in its place, before it infiltrates and establishes equality. So you want to see them coming, but then look away from what their presence really means. It seems that in white literature the goal is not to see in the first place, but those others are so much closer in Latin America, or so much harder to distinguish from oneself, that one must actually look and watch out, and take preventive measures against power, but not tell anyone you have done this, so that it can appear you did not see / did not need to see. I have to work this out, but it is very interesting.

In news of Reeducation, I have this strange sensation that the spell has lifted. It is amazing–magical.


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Rubén Medina

I have to read that old Robert Young book, Colonial Desire. I never did.

Meanwhile, Rubén Medina is a smart person I met randomly at one MLA early on, and who has been smart since. I need to find an old article of his, “Gloria Anzaldúa: The Politicsand Poetics of Mestizaje”, in Crítica: A Journal of Critical Essays (Primavera,1998): 73–85. This is from his 2008 piece.

Gloria Anzaldúa and mestizaje as self-fashioning

+ People think of hybridity as transgressive, but it isn’t always, as Gruzinski has pointed out (in the first half of the piece Medina talked in detail about the colonial history of mestizaje and about Vasconcelos).

+ Pnina Werbner notes the lack of a “process-based” theory of hybridity in critics like Hall, Bhabha and Gilroy. These critics only recognize that heteroglossia opposes monologism. There are a number of questions to be asked here.

+ on 119, Medina agrees with me: the mixing Anzaldúa, and others emphasize is between a subaltern and hegemonic, not among subalterns. An example in the U.S. is that many Chicanos “mix” with people of other races; Anzaldúa is working on the Mexican, the idealized indigenous, and the Anglo.

+ A. uses the mestizaje model in one way, to promote post-structuralist, constantly reforming, interculturality, and then in an aspirational, individualist way, to self-fashion, to imagine another way of being/world. Medina asks: how do you get from here to there?

+ For instance: can you disentangle elements of a culture to form one of your own?  How do you get from the material/historical circumstances of nation to utopia (as a scene of desire) to design a culture of your own, outside discourse and daily life? How will the subalterns do this and can they really tolerate contradictions, in the way the author would like?


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