Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza

by Gloria Anzaldúa

Paperback, 1987




Aunt Lute Books (1987), Edition: 1, 250 pages


"Rooted in Gloria Anzaldúa's experience as a Chicana, a lesbian, an activist, and a writer, the essays and poems in this volume challenge how we think about identity. Borderlands/La Frontera remaps our understanding of what a "border" is, presenting it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them, but as a psychic, social, and cultural terrain that we inhabit, and that inhabits all of us. This 20th anniversary edition features a new introduction comprised of commentaries from writers, teachers, and activists on the legacy of Gloria Anzaldúa's visionary work."--Jacket.


(162 ratings; 4.1)

User reviews

LibraryThing member turnthepage
Goria Anzaldua's Borderlands is brilliant and compassionate writing. A borderland is defined as a braided identity which occurs when two communities coexist in one person. People who embody a borderland might also be considered marginalized. Anzaldua, a lesbian who grew up between two cultures, a
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heavily Indian influenced Mexican culture and the culture of the Anglos is fully equipped to tackle the subject.

Three major themes emerge from this book. The first comes as no surprise; it is that living in a borderland is difficult, painful, and even dangerous. Secondly, and perhaps hand-in-hand with the first, is the idea that this difficulty can alter our biography. The fact that we are marginalized can influence so many aspects of our lives, from the way we express and feel about ourselves to the opportunities we have available to us, that living in a borderland leaves its imprint on our biography, if it does not destroy us. Last, there is a process involved in one’s struggle to survive in a borderland and we can emerge from that process with new awareness, new strength, even a new identity grounded in a new ethics of ambiguity.

The writing is powerful and deeply personal. I felt awe at Anzaldua's stubborn, raw will to live fully in the face of overwhelming obstacles and not just survive, but transcend. She believes that she is a step in the ladder of evolution, and not in the one-down position of alien or outsider but rather the one-up position of being part of the further evolution of humankind. Borderlands examines the painful aspects of this struggle to transcend without flinching, but ultimately leaves the reader with a message of hope:

"The answer to the problem between the white race and the colored, between males and females, lies in healing the split that originates in the very foundation of our lives, our culture, our languages, our thoughts. A massive uprooting of dualistic thinking in the individual and collective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war." (page 80)
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
I read the second edition of this book for a Latina/o Studies class in college, and found it such a powerful experience that I began pushing it on all my friends. One of them finally took me up on my offer to borrow it, and predictably, it is now lost somewhere in Mumbai!

A collection of essays and
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poems, written in both English and Spanish, Borderlands/La Frontera was a ground-breaking book that helped pave the way for the concept of "border studies." Brilliant, and at time bitter, it explores the border as a psychological construct, in which different strands of identity meet, and frequently clash. The physical border, in Anzaldua's case, is the U.S./Mexico border in Texas. But equally important, and equally real for the author, are the cultural, gender, and sexual boundaries that intersect her life. As a Tejana, Chicana, American, woman, feminist, and lesbian, Anzaldua has quite a few conflicting identities to try and reconcile, and her documentation of their not-so-peaceful co-existence makes for moving and, at times, uncomfortable reading.

As a straight, Anglo (a term that I don't necessarily accept, but will use here for simplicity) woman, I was amazed at how directly some of Anzaldua's narrative spoke to my own life experiences. I can recall moments of almost breathless wonder, as I read passages that finally gave voice to inchoate thoughts and feelings, vaguely-sensed but never expressed. This, I feel, is the author's true strength: her narrative voice, in the expression of her own experiences. As a theorist and educator, I am not so sure. I've heard some stories about her classroom that make me glad I was never her student...
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LibraryThing member ennuiprayer
I'm going to lose my Chicano, feminist status, but this book wasn't all that great.
LibraryThing member AngelReadsThings
This book is difficult to review because it is so many things at once. Anzaldúa's refusal to limit herself to one language, genre, or way of approaching history and truth resulted in my feeling enlightened, challenged, corrected, seen, and inspired. I finished this book with a deeper understanding
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of not only the physical and metaphorical borderlands Anzaldúa inhabited but also the complexity, struggle, and beauty of borderlands in general. I look forward to finding time to read this book again someday as I believe there is too much within it to get from one reading.
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1879960125 / 9781879960121
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