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  • A/parecernos:Rethinking the Multiplicitous Self as "Haunted" with Anzaldúa, La Malinche, and Other Ghosts
  • Rebekah Sinclair and Margaret Newton


Unlike many theories of the self found in Western philosophy, Maria Lugones and Mariana Ortega argue that subjectivity is multiplicitous in ways that defy the either/or logic of colonial Western thought. They also center liminal subjects, take embodiment seriously, and position multiplicitous subjects as always already in the borderlands. Their accounts of multiplicity are grounded in their lived experiences. Nevertheless, Lugones and Ortega disagree on the ontological and existential statuses of the multiplicitous self. While Lugones defends ontological pluralism and the discontinuity of experience that dissolves any unified "I," Ortega defends existential pluralism and the continuity of experience, retaining an existential "I."

Though Lugones and Ortega are prominent voices in Latinx feminism, the differences between their theories are underexplored. Our first section fills this gap by (1) summarizing their respective theories, and (2) demonstrating how their differing perspectives on memory lead to irreconcilable understandings of the multiplicitous self. Currently, one must choose between understanding memory as facilitating either discontinuity or continuity, Lugones's ontological pluralism or Ortega's existential pluralism.

In response, we exhume a third option from within the Chicanx tradition that keeps Lugones's ontological pluralism and Ortega's existential pluralism while providing a theory that explains communication between multiple selves. Our second section follows Anzaldúa into a kind of spirit-thinking, an epistemic and ontological project that takes seriously spirits, ghosts, and others whose voices rupture the experiencing "I." We analyze Chicanx feminist depictions of La Malinche as a cultural ghost, from another world and time, who haunts present-day Chicanx persons. [End Page 49]

In our third section, we draw on decolonial understandings of the relationship between immaterial spirits and material selves, where memories of past selves are understood as ghosts or spirits. Here, we posit a new understanding of multiplicitous subjectivity: the haunted subject. The haunted subject is located in one world at a time, experiencing a lack of unity with her selves from other worlds, even as she remembers them. Rather than understanding memory as maintaining existential continuity, we suggest that these memories function more like Anzaldúa's cultural memories of her ancestors and childhood self, which she describes as visitations by spirits (Anzaldúa, Gloria Anzaldúa Reader 39). By attending to the spiritual dimensions in Anzaldúa, our spiritualistic interpretation of memory as visitation imagines a middle ground between Lugones and Ortega, and theorizes a/parecernos, or the ways we seem to and appear to (or haunt) our various selves.

I. Two Accounts of Multiplicity

We argue that the differences between Lugones's and Ortega's theories hinge on memory. For Lugones, the impossibility of a coherent "I" begins with her experience and memories of herself as both a playful and a serious person. Lugones understands these as not simply different traits of one self, but as different selves existing in "different worlds." We argue that Lugones understands worlds in a somewhat logical sense,1 as domains where certain relations between signs, objects, persons, and states of being obtain (Lugones 20). Lugones argues that these plural worlds constitute an ontological pluralism (58–59). Importantly for our ghostly manifesto, worlds can contain aspects that are constructed through absence or difference, and while necessarily inhabited by "flesh and blood people," worlds can also be inhabited by imaginary people or specters (Lugones 87–88). Occupying many worlds is a kind of "world"-traveling, an epistemic shift to alternative worlds of sense (Lugones 16–20). "Traveling" between worlds means becoming different people in those worlds. Because world-traveling subjects experience themselves differently and signify different things within the different worlds they inhabit, they resist what Lugones calls the "logic of purity" and "love of unity," which reduce multiplicity to an underlying unity "through abstraction, categorization, [and] from a particular vantage point" (Lugones 128).

When Lugones travels from world to world, she has "this image, this memory," and "visions" of herself in other worlds (Lugones 90). So subjects do remember themselves from different worlds. But these memories create a "double image," like looking into a house of mirrors (Lugones 91). Because [End...


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