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The Book That Changed The Borders

Gloria Anzaldúa never let borders stop her. In fact, she expanded our understanding of what physical and cultural borders meant. A literary queer Chicana scholar, poet and author, Anzaldúa wrote about her life growing up near the South Texas border, the beauty and perils it offered.

Her best-known book, “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza,” is a seminal text that explores the invisible borders between people.

Anzaldúa uses poetry, prose and theory to dive into her own life and the marginalization she faced. Codeswitching from English to Spanish and sometimes to Nahautl, Anzaldúa delivers a message that borders are a fluid space.

The U.S-Mexican border es una herida abierta [it is an open wound] where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country — a border culture.

Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.

We travel alongside “Borderlands” and show how this author’s work has been integrated into the Chicana and feminist literary canon. We also consider how this text, 30 years later, has affected women and artists around the country.


AnaLouise Keating, Professor and director of the multicultural woman’s and gender studies doctoral program, Texas Woman’s University; Gloria Anzaldúa’s Literary arustee; @ALKeating

Angelica Becerra, Ph.D candidate in Chicano and Chicana Studies, UCLA; co-host of the podcast Anzalduing It

Jessica Helen Lopez, Poet Laureate Emeritus of the City of Albuquerque; adjunct professor, University of New Mexico Chicano/a Studies

Maria Federico Brummer, Director of Mexican-American Student Services; Tucson Unified School District

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