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  • Aztlán: Essays on the Chicano Homelanded. by Rudolfo Anaya, Francisco A. Lomelí and Enrique R. Lamadrid
  • Rolando J. Díaz
Rudolfo Anaya, Francisco A. Lomelí, and Enrique R. Lamadrid, eds. Aztlán: Essays on the Chicano Homeland. Revised and expanded edition. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2017. 424 pp. ISBN: 9780826356758. $29.95.

In this revised and expanded edition, Rudolfo Anaya, renowned author of Bless Me Ultima(1972) and Heart of Aztlán(1976); Francisco A. Lomelí, senior scholar of Chicano and Latin American literature; and Enrique R. Lamadrid, folklorist and cultural historian, provide new insights into Chicano cultural identity as reflected in the many perceptions and interpretations of the mythical land of Aztlán. Composed of four parts, divided into twenty chapters, the authors take an interdisciplinary approach as they present Aztlán as a place that encapsulates both the past and the future for the Chicano people.

Each chapter presents multiple perceptions and interpretations of the meaning of Aztlán to the Chicano people. The historical approach to Aztlán is based on “numerous mythic renderings, maps in codices, early chronicles, colonial cartographic representations, and philosophical deductions” (3). Aztlán is “a lightning rod, polarizing agent” by which one can understand the “contradictions, gender stipulations, studies in sexuality, and philosophical positions” (11) that focus on challenging the dominant culture of the United States, within which the Chicano must exist. Per the varying examinations, contemplations, and interpretations presented in this book, Aztlán, in its many iterations, is an elemental (mythical, historical, cultural, linguistic) part of the Chicano.

Part I. Aztlán as Myth and Historical Consciousness

Highlights from this part include the ideals of the Chicano Movement and the establishment of Aztlán as the mythical and historic homeland of all Chicanos. Chapter 1 presents “El plan espiritual de Aztlán,” a document that is the essence of the Chicano Movement (nationalism and self-determination) as presented at the First Chicano National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in 1969 (27–30). The collective voice speaks through a document that is a call to arms to all “Chicano inhabitants and civilizers of the northern land of Aztlán” (27). In chapter 2, “Aztlán: A Homeland without Boundaries,” Rudolfo Anaya contemplates the once and future influence of Aztlán on the Chicano consciousness. He defines the term Chicanoas a naming, or a process of self-definition, whereby Mexican Americans created a sense of nation by going back to the mythology of the Aztecs. [End Page 194]

Part 2. Historicizing the Dialectics of Aztlán

Topics that surge forth in this section include social and human rights, myth versus reality, and the political uses of mythology pursuant to Aztlán and the Chicano experience. In chapter 7, “In Search of Aztlán,” Luis Leal (translated by Gladys Leal) describes Chicano literature as a genre “that has emerged as a consequence of the fight for social and human rights” based on symbology “taken from the surrounding social environment” (151). According to this author, Aztlán “is as much symbol as it is myth,” for it represents the geographical reality after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and “the spiritual union of the Chicanos” (153). In chapter 8, “Myth and Reality: Observations on American Myths and the Myth of Aztlán,” E. A. Mares takes the Myth of the Traditional Culture and contrasts it with the Myth of Aztlán. He describes racist and prejudiced perceptions of the dominant culture of the Mexican American or Chicano “as a passive creature, who receives, but does not create culture,” as belonging to an ahistoric people who do not generate history, as a “stagnant, regressive society,” as lacking goal orientation (lazy), and as decidedly un-American (165). He contrasts all of this with the real impact of the Myth of Aztlán on the Chicano people as a unifying force capable of manifesting intellectual and artistic creations, thus changing the world around them (173–80).

Part 3. Redefining Aztlán as a Discursive Concept

Persistent themes in this part include the hybridity of the Chicano identity, the metaphor of the open wound that is the frontera, or the borderlands...


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