Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Introduction

"This book is dedicated a todos mexicanos on both sides of the border. "[1]

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza [1987] is a semi-autobiographical work by Gloria E. Anzaldúa that includes prose and poems detailing the invisible "borders" that exist between Latinas/os and non-Latinas/os, men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, and other groups.

The term Borderlands, according to Anzaldúa, refers to the geographical area that is most susceptible to la mezcla [hybridity], neither fully of Mexico nor fully of the United States.[2] She also used this term to identify a growing population that cannot distinguish these invisible "borders," who instead have learned to become a part of both worlds, worlds whose cultural expectations they are still expected to abide by.

Each of the essays and poems draws on the author’s life experiences as a Chicana and lesbian activist. In both prose and poetry sections, Anzaldúa challenges the conception of a border as a simple divide and ultimately calls for the majority, especially those from the Western culture, to nurture active interest in the oppressed and change their attitudes that foster the growth and sustenance of borders.

In this semi-autobiographical account, Anzaldúa comes to terms with her Chicana lesbian identity to recognize the components of its existence. Not only does her lesbian identity have both male and female aspects, but her culture is a mixture of many different races and cultures. By using both English and Spanish in her writing, she demonstrates that Chicana literature could, maybe even should, be expressed in multiple languages. Cultural identity is very important to Anzaldua, but she claims that "culture is made by those in power –men. Males make the rules and laws; women transmit them." By emerging beyond the limits of either American or Mexican culture, Chicana literature provides a voice to the people of the borderlands.


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