Tag Archives: Anzaldúa

The last juicy footnote

The text:

I would add and emphasize that the literary construction of a national subject with indigenous roots, modern-democratic feeling, and transnational potential has been an elite, not a subaltern project in Latin America for over two hundred years. This subject is a product of colonialism, and it could be argued that it was crafted after formal decolonization to anchor the modern/colonial world-system in place, not to dismantle it.

The note:

Denise Ferreira da Silva’s work actually suggests this. HERE IS THE TOPIC OF NEXT PAPER! (But I knew that.)

GENERAL NOTE: have I emphasized clearly enough that in a feminist critique of mestizaje you kind of should talk about origins of mestiza in rape? Especially if you are using Vasconcelos? It goes without saying, I think, but at the same time: these mestizos and mestizas have that status originally because they’re products of colonialism / patriarchy, and this matters in a particular way when you’re idealizing mestizaje.

Anyway, I am not

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Not footnoted.

This paragraph:

Whether “border” identities are necessarily radical ones is another pertinent question here. Though Anzaldúa’s book is based on the notion of radicalizing experience, it does not address the failure of experience to provide radical consciousness. For example, when Anzaldúa asserts a type of natural bond between the gay and the mestiza, she denies the existence of racism in the gay community. Where does the gay white Republican fall on the [r]evolutionary continuum? How do we account for the assimilationist politics of Chicano writer Richard Rodríguez—a contemporary of Anzaldúa’s—or explain intra-minority racisms? Why is solidarity so hard to attain?

These questions have been addressed, to some degree, by others, but not in a way satisfactory to me. I didn’t footnote those scholars or those discussions–that, again, is for another day.


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More juicy footnotes — being excised, this is too complicated and has to be for another paper

These questions–raised by Medina, on whether you really can just take from a culture what you want and leave the rest, and by me [following others], on the distance between giving voice to the subaltern subject [that may be you, although the subaltern cannot speak] and creating a new, liberated subject–lead back to issues of nation and class, not to the more ebullient terrain of transnationalism or cosmopolitan hybridity.

See Aijaz Ahmad. We are glad to talk about hybridization because it isn’t taking up arms. Anzaldúa reaches out to white people and ignores bridges to other minorities (Medina), and doesn’t deal with Mexican side of the border, but does appropriate gods from central Mexico. Still, what is interesting, and what makes her struggle difficult, is the bridging of this chasm between the subaltern and the liberated subject (and I had in my notes, her work to contain anger).

Everything seems to make sense from the white/academic point of view. Anzaldúa stopped saying mestiza and started saying nepantlera because of these problems; is that a better term or just a more effective evasion?

ALSO: Anzaldúa’s choices of Latin American points of reference–pre-Columbian deities and canonical authors like José Vasconcelos and Octavio Paz–are interesting, since they are canonical/conservative, not “minority” references. There are actual minority cultural and literary traditions, both current and older, that might be the things to reach out to or compare one’s own project to, if that project were subaltern–right?


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Excised from footnotes

Every footnote could become part of a new paper, and perhaps should. I cut from one footnote:

Scholars like Peter Wade note that mestizaje as ideology has worked as a uniting force in some communities, but Bolivia is now a plurinational state and Ecuador’s most recent constitution gives indigenous peoples their own cultural rights. There is also interesting bibliography on hybrid subjects opting out of the mestizo concensus. Two sophisticated but brief studies which may also serve as advanced introductions to the problem are Piedra (a literary perspective) and Ribeiro (a perspective from the social sciences).

And: my sentence “In contexts where the liminal or hybrid subject is a not a figure of multiple oppression but one of conciliation, the assignation of primary revolutionary work to them actually functions to obscure subaltern representation,” could have a footnote. Several scholars already have responses to what I say here: Anzaldúa is marginal in the United States. But that is my point: she’s not universal, then, and if your defense of the mestiza as necessarily revolutionary is that she is in the United States, then you’re being ethnocentric.


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Silvia Tandeciarz

I am not sure how easy it will be to get another copy of T’s important article on Spivak but I am recycling it because I simply must get a clearer desk, and clearer shelves.

She says that it is not so much that Spivak puts French feminism in an international frame but that she finds an international frame for French feminism. Spivak’s article is to read in France among the French but does not really speak to an international audience.

Said spoke of a conspiracy of theory, theorists all affirm each other and come up with a kind of orthodoxy. Is it ever possible to ensure the nonimperialist use and application of seemingly “politically correct” theoretical frameworks?

The Said article is in Foster, The Anti-Aesthetic. Said, in almost his exact words: In systems evidence gets homogenized very easily. Criticism as such is crowded out and disallowed from the start; hence, it is impossible. In the end one learns to manipulate bits of the system like so many parts of a machine. The universal system does not in fact take in a great deal: it screens out what it cannot directly absorb and repetitively churns out the same answers.

I think this is what happens to Anzaldúa and work on her. She says she is radical and of color and a fluctuating subject and then everyone else says so are they, and so are their objects of study, and a certain theoretical model of the subject is affirmed. It seems not to matter that the way she formulates this is by the same strategies elite Latin American subjects form themselves as allegedly oppositional to Europe–appropriating certain indigenous cultural material to do so.


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Recycling colonial Brazil, or, Colonial identity in the Atlantic world . . . and Ferreira da Silva, again

I went to this NEH institute almost 20 years ago where I was a bad student. I was partly there because I needed the scholarship money to survive the summer. And as it turned out we were to stay in these depressing dorms, and the NEH was broke that summer so the coolest speakers could not come . . . and the director had told the speakers we did have that we would “know nothing,” so they were speaking as if for tourists, and were surprised to find out we were professors.

It was when faculty now famous were younger, still trying to get married, still trying to have children, having unwise romantic drama with each other, so things were tense like high school or graduate school. (College had not been like that because people did not seem to see it as the end.)

It was the summer JSTOR was new. I was stifled in my job and alienated. A friend even more alienated was there. I think we were right in our analysis, but it was not a charitable one. In any case I remember the malaise. I did write a paper.

In any case, I am recycling some materials from it, and taking note of a few things in it — namely on formations of national identity in late-colonial Brazil and Spanish America (Stuart Schwartz, Anthony Pagden). Pagden — and I quite like his essay, and am not doing it justice — says that by 1650 or so the criollo elites of Mexico and Peru no longer considered themselves, nor their culture, Spanish. Because of early policies about marrying Indians and considering mestizo offspring Spaniards, by the early 18th century few criollo families were not actually mestizo.

The early racial fluidity undermined the criollo sense of being a closed, white elite and as a result of this, the project of figuring out how to extol the indigenous past while excluding present Indians was born; it was already clear by the middle of the 16th century that this was the model. Mestizos were also despised by now–not the bearers of a new, mixed culture.

Meanwhile, people like Siguenza y Góngora (1645-1700) were trying to figure out how to create a history and identity that used the past glory/present subjection of Indians as a basis of Mexican history. (He constructs Pre-Columbian Mexico as Mexico’s classical heritage, and so on.) It is worth reading, rereading this, and getting the actual book, too, which is inexpensive now.

Other things in this binder include some classic essays on the independence of Brazil, and Karl Kohut’s 2000 volume on the formation of viceregal culture, which has three volumes.


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In Revision

I am going to have to make sure that paper doesn’t sound like I’m excoriating the Anzaldúa text for being “not Mexican enough.” (Should I worry about that?)

Probably not. I haven’t gotten hold of the Vila chapter I wanted but I found this article by him and it is very, very good, that is — it supports my view. The other piece is in Ethnography at the Border and I think it is an English translation of this.


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Some links and things for Santa Gloria

1. Entrevistas.

2. Pérez-Torre’s book that I know already I would find self-satisfied and strange — or maybe not, it’s not terribly informed, even though I would rather read Mónica Díaz’ edited collection on being indio in the colonial period. I should ILL it.

3. There’s an article Cholo Angels in Guadalajara that I would quite like to see. (I will request it though ILL.)

4. This not excellent dissertation from Kentucky.

5. Benjamin Alire Sánchez 1997 – – perhaps I can find this, too.



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Mestizaje and deculturation

Lomnitz-Adler talks about mestizaje and, or as deculturation. It’s not a place of exuberance but of loss. Is why the mestizaje fans spend so much time on healing?


Original: Decentered discourse? Problematizing the “Borderlands”

Next: Rereading Borderlands: Las márgenes de Gloria Anzaldúa

Then: Transnational Borderlands? Las márgenes de Gloria Anzaldúa

Then: Border trouble? Intersectionality in Gloria Anzaldúa

AND there were various other possibilities in between. “The problem with borders and borderlands: intersectionality in GA;” “Dancing at the threshold: interesectionality in GA;” more.



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Más y más mestizos

From March 2017:

“…mestizo and mestizaje…are doubly hybrid. On the one hand they house an empirical hybridity, built upon eighteenth and nineteenth century racial taxonomies and according to which ‘mestizos’ are non-indigenous individuals, the result of biological or cultural mixtures. Yet, mestizos’ genealogy starts earlier, when ‘mixture’ denoted transgression of the rule of faith, and its statutes of purity. Within this taxonomic regime mestizos could be, at the same time, indigenous. Apparently dominant, racial theories sustained by scientific knowledge mixed with, (rather than cancel) previous faith based racial taxonomies. ‘Mestizo’ thus houses a conceptual hybridity – the mixture of two classificatory regimes – which reveals subordinate alternatives for mestizo subject positions, including forms of indigeneity.”
—de la Cadena 2005

Y sí, and that is what the talk the other day did not address, and it is key for my piece on Isaacs: there is racial and religious mestizaje that stand in for each other. THIS is a good insight, I do think. (About mestizaje itself, the other way in which the word or concept “means in two accents” is that it is deployed in both oppressive and utopian or liberating ways.)

Also: Kraniauskas, hybridity and traces of capital, and that article on comparative hybridities.


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