- Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art eds. by Inés Hernández-Ávila and Norma Elia Cantú
Academia has long overlooked the written works and visual art of Latinas, to say nothing about Tejanas specifically. With Entre Guadalupe y Malinche, editors Inés Hernández-Ávila and Norma Elia Cantú have produced a volume meriting serious scholarly consideration. The title refers to the space in between the dichotomy of Guadalupe, the syncretized version of the virgin mother, and Malinche, the often-vilified interpreter for and lover of Hernán Cortés [End Page 373] during his conquest of Mexico, where Tejana women affirm their subjectivity. It is in this space that these women follow the influential work of fellow Tejana writer Gloria Anzaldúa, whose embrace of fluidity resonates throughout.
The anthology features poems, short stories, and essays from over fifty authors and artwork from eight visual artists who collectively refuse to adhere to one overarching identifier, opting instead to employ mixtures of Tejana, Texas-Mexican, Mexican American, and Chicana identity. Indeed, even the idea of Texas is problematized at moments when the border between Mexico and the United States can disappear, only to brutally reassert itself. There is also a recognition that this land was something before it was Texas and will be something else in the future. Finally, it is notable that many of the writings flow masterfully between Spanish and English. This constant unsettling of binaries underscores the decolonial framework that shapes this collection of canonical artists such as Anzaldúa, Pat Mora, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Carmen Tafolla, and Santa Barraza, and new voices like Gloria Amescua, Mary Guerrero Milligan, and María Limón.
Entre Guadalupe y Malinche is structured by five distinct sections that interrogate Tejana connections to land, history, visual art, familial networks and relationships, and love. Readers will find some overlap because these themes repeat. Intersectionality, however, is the book's strength. Many of the works, like Hernández Ávila's "That's Tejana," portray women negotiating their Indigeneity with their tejanidad. Enedina Cásarez Vásquez's "Bad Hair Day" is a poem about entering womanhood and violence towards women, as is Tammy Melody Gómez's "Woman and Pain," in which she declares that "A woman who survives is a walking journal of her woes" (331). In fact, violence is one of the volume's recurring themes and performed by multiple aggressors in various ways: by teachers, husbands, fathers, and border agents exercising social conditioning, physical violence, negligence, and prejudice.
Yet for all that violence and pain, love and community form the lasting impression with which the collection leaves its readers. And true to the roots of this work—creating a space for Tejana women to tell their stories—love is grounded in resistance and survival. [End Page 374] Sylvia Ledesma's poem "Struggling for Freedom" exemplifies this notion: "the day before yesterday," she writes, "I heard the cry of the Indian / yesterday it was the cry of the Mexican / now it is you, my brother." In response to such cries, she sings "of the suffering," and through such singing, she concludes, "the sadness leaves my heart" (405). Ledesma's inclusive song does not just coexist with suffering; it provides an alternative that survives it through shared bonds.
Although poetry and prose comprise much of the work, the visual art is a welcome component. Carmen Lomas Garza's paintings of female healers invoke traditional knowledge that does not rely on Western medicine. Meanwhile, Kathy Vargas's collage of photos and narratives of a Tejano family from the My Alamo Series pairs nicely with Guerrero Milligan's short story "La Mentira, or How I Got through Texas History" for their attention to challenging the Alamo's historical narrative.
In the introduction to Entre Guadalupe y Malinche, Hernández-Ávila remarks that the idea for this book was first born during the Chicana movement in the 1970s (6). Though it took several decades to...