Born in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas on September 26, 1942, Gloria Anzaldúa grew up on a ranch where her parents worked as farmers. In an interview with Professor of Literature Ann E. Reuman, Anzaldúa expresses that her ethnic background and childhood experiences in a southern Texas farming culture both heavily influenced her work in Borderlands.
In 1969 Anzaldúa received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas- Pan American. From there she went onto a master's program at the University of Texas-Austin and graduated with her master's in English and Education in 1972. On May 15, 2004, Gloria Anzaldúa died of diabetes complications.
As the publication of Borderlands followed the Chicano Movement, Professor of Sociology María L. Amado argues that Anzaldua drew influence for her concept of the “new mestiza” from that of “la Raza mestiza,” a theory of collective identity predicated on notions of racial purity created by philosopher José Vasconcelos, later adopted by Chicanos.
Scholar Melissa Castillo-Garsow also lends much of Anzaldúa’s influence to her experiences as a woman of color in academia. Rather than having Borderlands maintain adherence to academic norms, Castillo-Garsow argues that Anzaldúa’s work challenges traditional paradigms through her theorization of the “mestiza consciousness” and the intermingling of her own Chicano Spanish with standard academic English, drawing from her background as a Chicana woman.