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How Gloria Anzaldúa's Life and Work Transformed Our Own

Edited by AnaLouise Keating and Gloria González-López

Publication Year: 2011

The inspirational writings of cultural theorist and social justice activist Gloria Anzaldúa have empowered generations of women and men throughout the world. Charting the multiplicity of Anzaldúa’s impact within and beyond academic disciplines, community trenches, and international borders, Bridging presents more than thirty reflections on her work and her life, examining vibrant facets in surprising new ways and inviting readers to engage with these intimate, heartfelt contributions. Bridging is divided into five sections: The New Mestizas: “transitions and transformations”; Exposing the Wounds: “You gave me permission to fly in the dark”; Border Crossings: Inner Struggles, Outer Change; Bridging Theories: Intellectual Activism with/in Borders; and “Todas somos nos/otras”: Toward a “politics of openness.” Contributors, who include Norma Elia Cantú, Elisa Facio, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Aída Hurtado, Andrea Lunsford, Denise Segura, Gloria Steinem, and Mohammad Tamdgidi, represent a broad range of generations, professions, academic disciplines, and national backgrounds. Critically engaging with Anzaldúa’s theories and building on her work, they use virtual diaries, transformational theory, poetry, empirical research, autobiographical narrative, and other genres to creatively explore and boldly enact future directions for Anzaldúan studies. A book whose form and content reflect Anzaldúa’s diverse audience, Bridging perpetuates Anzaldúa’s spirit through groundbreaking praxis and visionary insights into culture, gender, sexuality, religion, aesthetics, and politics. This is a collection whose span is as broad and dazzling as Anzaldúa herself.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Con profunda gratitud

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pp. xi-xiv

This book has been a collective effort spanning more than half a decade, and we have many people and organizations to thank. First and foremost, of course, we thank Gloria Anzald

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Building Bridges, Transforming Loss, Shaping New Dialogues: Anzald

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pp. 1-16

In this epigraph, drawn from “now let us shift . . . the path of conocimiento . . . inner work, public acts,” an essay written near the end of her life, Gloria Anzaldúa emphasizes the potentially redemptive power of suffering as she enacts a movement from the personal to the communal. But what does it mean, to “redeem” our “most painful experiences”?...


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CHAPTER 1. Bridges of conocimiento: Una conversaci

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pp. 19-25

Beyond and more powerful than marginalization is solidarity, and I have found a place of rewarding fruition en tus palabras y conocimiento; your approach of autohistoria-teoría speaks to me as an alternative path to conocimiento. It crosses the divide between “intellectual” activity and our inner knowledge, making us look at the actual effects, the emotional ...

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CHAPTER 2. A Letter to Gloria Anzaldúa Written from 30,000 Feet and 25 Years after Her “Speaking In Tongues: A Letter to 3rd-World Women Writers”

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pp. 26-32

Tomorrow I will present my “expertise” on the poet’s life—not just any poet’s life but the woman of color poet’s life—to women of color who want to believe that writing is not in vain. I have been invited by Miss Kristina Wong, the bravest performance artist I know. It is an honor to be called to this community center in the Valley (a place I avoided due to my fear ...

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CHAPTER 3. Deconstructing the Immigrant Self: The Day I Discovered I Am a Latina

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pp. 33-36

Early on during the beginnings of my academic career in the United States, about twelve years ago, I became interested in Anzaldúa’s work, as I was struck by her original thinking, her compassionate understanding of Latinas’ struggles, and her work toward proposing bridges between our different political and personal “selves.”...

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CHAPTER 4. My Path of Conocimiento: How Graduate School Transformed Me into a Nepantlera

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pp. 39-44

It took me three days to read Gloria Anzaldúa’s essay “now let us shift . . . the path of conocimiento . . . inner work, public acts” in this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation. The essay was assigned in a graduate-level Women’s Studies course titled Latinas in the Americas that I enrolled in because it was with my mentor, Dr. Irene Lara, and ...

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CHAPTER 5. Aprendiendo a Vivir/Aprendiendo a Morir

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pp. 45-48

Although we grew up only a few miles from each other along the U.S.-Mexico border, she in the Valley and I in Laredo, I didn’t hear of Gloria Anzaldúa until the 1980s at a conference in Michigan where she was scheduled to speak and had problems with the patriarchal structure of the organization and the conference. It was the National Association of ...

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CHAPTER 6. Making Face, Rompiendo Barreras: The Activist Legacy of Gloria E. Anzald

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pp. 49-62

Late in the day on May 16, 2004, many of us who were familiar with Gloria Anzaldúa’s work received an e-mail from Profesora Norma Alarcón from the University of California, Berkeley, with the following message:. . .Dear Friends: With great sorrow I pass on the news of Gloria Anzaldúa’s death. She was found dead in her house by a friend who came by on Thursday of ...


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CHAPTER 7. Anzald

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pp. 65-67

I have been searching and searching and searching. I have been looking through every window. Following every pathway. I have cried to every god and goddess on this earth. My tongue got dry from asking. My eyes burned out from reading. My mom cansada de tantos huesos milenarios arrastrados. My mom looked at me: “I don’t know what you are, mi’ja.” “I don’t know what you are, ...

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CHAPTER 8. “May We Do Work That Matters”: Bridging Gloria Anzaldúa across Borders

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pp. 68-73

I think of you quietly, Gloria, as I sit here today, in a conference room, about to give a talk titled “Sueños, pesadillas y heridas: Mexicanidades y chicanidades en transición” in a symposium: La cultura contemporánea en Estados Unidos. Panelists talk about U.S. culture from a Mexican perspective—más bien dicho, a Central Mexico, Mexico City, La Capital ...

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CHAPTER 9. A Call to Action: Spiritual Activism . . . an Inevitable Unfolding

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pp. 74-79

When I read Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera during my junior year in college I immediately responded to her mapping of a “border consciousness”; it gave me a way to express the deep disconnection I felt as a daughter not of the Cuban middle class but of the seldom-acknowledged racially mixed Cuban working-poor immigrants ...

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CHAPTER 10. Gloria Anzald

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pp. 80-84

In the fall of 1993, during my first semester as a master of arts student in Hispanic literature at New Mexico State University, one of my professors recommended I read Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestizaby Gloria Anzald

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CHAPTER 11. Breaking Our Chains: Achieving Nos/otras Consciousness

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pp. 85-90

I first encountered Gloria Anzaldúa’s work as a graduate student in a literary theory class. After spending most of the semester deciphering writings by such luminaries as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Homi Bhabha, it was refreshing to finally encounter clear, vibrant prose. My eyes flew with the lines; my fingers could almost touch the thick, full-...

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CHAPTER 12. Conocimiento and Healing: Academic Wounds, Survival, and Tenure

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pp. 91-100

“Congratulations on your promotion to associate professor with tenure!!!! I’ll look forward to having you as a colleague for many years to come.” I received this note from my department chair in an e-mail dated December 18, 2007. For about a week or two, I had been waiting to hear the official announcement. I felt blissfully happy and profoundly ...


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CHAPTER 13. Letters from Nepantla: Writing through the Responsibilities and Implications of the Anzald

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pp. 103-110

I did not expect to write such a letter in my effort to honor the life and work of Gloria Anzaldúa and explore the specific ways we can expand and build on her intellectual legacy. I wrote this letter to Bridging’s generous editors in response to their request for final permission to publish the piece I submitted three years earlier. In the original essay, I had at-...

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CHAPTER 14. Challenging Oppressive Educational Practices: Gloria Anzald

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pp. 111-117

I was grading papers one morning in May 2004, and Gloria Anzaldúa’s voice was in my head (as it often, or perhaps always, is), recounting the experiences of Third World women writers. She tells me, . . . Because white eyes do not want to know us, they do not bother to learn our language, the language which reflects us, our culture, our spirit. The ...

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CHAPTER 15. Living Transculturation: Confessions of a Santero Sociologist

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pp. 118-126

These are the opening words, sprinkled with cool water, of the divination procedure—“throwing coco” (coconut)—used by santeros and aleyos (non-initiates) when they address the orisha (the divinities of the Yoruba pantheon) or the eggun (spirits of the dead).1 Here, as is customary, I propitiated Eleggua, the guardian of the crossroads, prior to ...

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CHAPTER 16. Acerc

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pp. 127-135

I came to know Gloria E. Anzaldúa toward the end of the 1980s through quotations that sounded very new and interesting, mostly from This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color but also in essays on cultural studies or feminist studies. In 1996, during one of my periodic study trips to the States, I bought a copy of Anzaldúa’s Border-...

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CHAPTER 17. Learning to Live Together: Bridging Communities, Bridging Worlds

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pp. 136-141

I found Borderlands/La Frontera a few months after it came out on the shelf in Old Wives’ Tales, a feminist bookstore in San Francisco. Or it somehow found me. I could never be sure. In either case, I was convinced that fate had a hand in the matter. I was a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender in 1987– 88, giving ...

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CHAPTER 18. Risking the Vision, Transforming the Divides: Nepantlera Perspectives on Academic Boundaries, Identities, and Lives

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pp. 142-152

Those of us who live skirting otros mundos, other groups, in this in-between state I call nepantla have a unique perspective. We notice the breaches in feminism, the rifts in Raza studies, the breaks in our disciplines, the splits in this country. These cracks show the fl aws in our cultures, the faults in our pictures of reality. The perspective from...


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CHAPTER 19. “To live in the borderlands means you”

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pp. 155-157

Alive always, despite the body having given up at sixty-one, Gloria Anzald

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CHAPTER 20. A modo de testimoniar: Borderlands, Papeles, and U.S. Academia

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pp. 158-164

Fall 2002: I encountered Gloria Anzaldúa’s work in my first semester of an M.A./Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature while experiencing the conflictive reality of sitting in university classrooms as an undocumented migrant in the United States. “La conciencia de la mestiza/Towards a New Consciousness” was a suggested reading in a feminist ...

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CHAPTER 21. On Borderlands and Bridges: An Inquiry into Gloria Anzaldúa’s Methodology

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pp. 165-171

The first time I read Borderlands/La Frontera, in 2001, I found myself irresistibly drawn to Gloria Anzaldúa’s theory of an emerging borderland culture. She surprised me at each new twist and turn of her text with her probing analysis and methodology of the emergence of a new mestiza consciousness and her tracing of the intercultural bridges that ...

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CHAPTER 22. For Gloria, Para M

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pp. 172-174

I am suspicious of poets who claim to know the single impetus for any work. I suspect that Gloria, mi tía, la hermana de my mamá, y la hermana de my abuela, también, was similarly predisposed. I imagine her so because it comforts me to suppose that she too experienced seasons of wonder and seasons of little—and without any idea whom to curse ...

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CHAPTER 23. Chicana Feminist Sociology in the Borderlands

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pp. 175-181

In this essay we discuss the ways that Gloria Anzaldúa’s conceptualization of “borderlands” expanded our sociological imaginations. Trained as qualitative sociologists, we were well versed in feminist methods that emphasized women’s voices and experiences as critical analytical starting points. For us, Anzaldúa’s writings offered a new language that liber-...

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CHAPTER 24. Embracing Borderlands: Gloria Anzald

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pp. 182-188

When I wrote to Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa in early 1996 to ask if I might talk with her about the relationship between her work and the disciplines of rhetoric and writing studies and postcolonial studies, she didn’t say “No” right away, but she wasn’t very enthusiastic, either. After all, rhetoric and writing studies have a long reputation of being deeply ...


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CHAPTER 25. Hurting, Believing, and Changing the World: My Faith in Gloria Anzald

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pp. 191-196

I was raised, in part, by my Catholic grandmother, and I grew up caring for her increasingly disabled body.1 She was a paradox: a feminist (at least in my terms) who went to college and worked full time as a nurse; she quit work after marrying at thirty and spent the rest of her life sitting with her rosary in front of the radio (and, later, television), raising her ...

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CHAPTER 26. Feels Like “Carving Bone”: (Re)Creating the Activist-Self, (Re)Articulating Transnational Journeys, while Sifting through Anzaldúan Thought

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pp. 197-203

At a very critical time in my life, in a graduate Women’s Studies classroom in Texas, I was introduced to Gloria Anzaldúa’s work. To say the least it was a life-changing encounter of epiphanic proportions. As the epigraph suggests, Anzaldúa made me want to reach into myself and create theory. Since then, throughout my emotional, spiritual, political,...

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CHAPTER 27. Shifting

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pp. 204-209

I asked Gloria Anzaldúa to help me write this essay. It wasn’t the first time I’d called on her to inspire me, but it was the first as mis muertos. No difference, really. She always seemed to me to be someone not of this world, even as she rested her tiny frame in a chair in our class circle, as real as each of us fervent graduate students. She asked us to intro-...

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CHAPTER 28. “Darkness, My Night”: The Philosophical Challenge of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Aesthetics of the Shadow

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pp. 210-217

I first came across Gloria Anzaldúa’s work in the fall of 1990, my fourth year in graduate school at Harvard University. The book was Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color, edited by Anzaldúa. Published in 1990, it contained pieces by Latina, Asian American, African American, and Native American ...

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CHAPTER 29. The Simultaneity of Self- and Global Transformations: Bridging with Anzaldúa’s Liberating Vision

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pp. 218-225

“Bridging” is different from what Paulo Freire critiqued as the “banking system” of transmitting knowledge (57– 74). The “banking system,” in which one person “deposits” information into another person or people, is a one-directional, hierarchical monologue. In contrast, bridging is dialogic and assumes the existence and equal value of “banks” of knowledge ...

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CHAPTER 30. For Gloria Anzald

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pp. 226-229

When I first heard of Gloria Anzaldúa’s death, I had already lived nine years longer than she had. Now as I write this, I’ve had fourteen more years—and her death seems all the more unjust. The last words of hers I read were in a major essay she had written for this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation, the ...

CHAPTER 31. She Eagle: For Gloria Anzald

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p. 230-230


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pp. 231-240


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pp. 241-244

Works Cited

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pp. 245-252

Published Writings by Gloria E. Anzald

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pp. 253-256

Contributors’ Biographies

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pp. 257-266


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pp. 267-276

E-ISBN-13: 9780292734715
E-ISBN-10: 0292734719
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292725553
Print-ISBN-10: 0292725558

Page Count: 292
Illustrations: 6 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mexican Americans -- Intellectual life.
  • Social change in literature.
  • Social justice in literature.
  • Ethnicity in literature.
  • Anzaldúa, Gloria -- Influence.
  • Anzaldúa, Gloria -- Appreciation -- United States.
  • Mexican Americans in literature.
  • Queer theory.
  • Cross-cultural studies.
  • Women's studies.
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