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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex tapestry exploring the many facets of "mestiza."
Anzaldua weaves a richly complex tapestry which explores many facets of "mestiza" -- of being "caught between" a variety of binary oppositions. Of course, the complicated cultural issues of mestiza are thoroughly addressed in this brilliant, spell-binding book. Also, issues of language (as she weaves a variety of languages and linguistic modes...
Published on September 22, 1998

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21 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oye, chica! Como hablas!
Rather than jump into the political debates of identity and race, I thought I'd mention some unusual aspects of Anzaldua's use of language. Page references are to the third edition.

Anzaldua's use of language is both inclusive (it contains elements of her eight spoken languages plus Nahuatl, p. 77) and exclusionary - she adamantly refuses to translate for her...
Published on February 4, 2010 by R. Borneman


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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex tapestry exploring the many facets of "mestiza.", September 22, 1998
By A Customer
Anzaldua weaves a richly complex tapestry which explores many facets of "mestiza" -- of being "caught between" a variety of binary oppositions. Of course, the complicated cultural issues of mestiza are thoroughly addressed in this brilliant, spell-binding book. Also, issues of language (as she weaves a variety of languages and linguistic modes of expression in her text), sexual identity (as a lesbian woman), shamanic consciousness (which she describes as her "waking dream" or the Coatlicue state," and later as the "shamanic state"), and more. The political implications of the book are powerful and engagingly complex. Yet at the same time, the personal and spiritual dimensions of the book are intensly satisfying. I find this book opening up doors of consciousness for me in my own spiritual and creative life. I strongly recommend reading this book at night before going to sleep. It is the kind of literature that expands in the dreaming consciousness.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Borderlands: A place where people can meet, May 13, 1998
By A Customer
Borderlands/ La Frontera: the new Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua is a wonderful piece of literature that refreshes and revitalizes the image of both Chicana/os and lesbians in a refreshing manner that exalts the power and possibilities immanent in both these marginalized perspectives. To reader who are skeptical of the legitimacy behind these positions beware, the immediacy of her prose and poetry may just convert you. But, regardless of ones knowledge of either contemporary issues in the more academic realm of queer theory and Chicano studies. The book is a wonderful achievement and insight into both of these very different and yet connected worlds, which are interlaced throughout the work. The English speaking reader may be wary of a book that does not cater to us as a reader-the book contains both passages in English and Spanish-however, even without access to the Spanish passages the book is a good way of getting to know a very different world than what most straight white middle class America is used to.

The Book is composed of seven essays, which is followed by selections of her poetry. However, do not make the mistake that these essays are only dry theoretical, or historical tales, to inform the reader about the plight of lesbians and Chicana/os, even though this is in some sense what these pieces are about. But Anzaldua's means of presenting of factual material is more akin to the poetry in the second half of the book than what we might normally expect. Her mixing of these genre's serves simultaneously to explore new frontiers both in an aesthetic sense and to truly give new life to her subject matter. The result is a work which defies traditional modes of classification while simultaneously breathing an electric passion into the representation of peoples we might easily not have an opportunity to see or hear.

The metaphor of the Borderlands is an apt description of the book as a totality, while within the text this in-between space is central to her understanding of h! erself as a Queer Chicana writer. Anzaldua resists the temptation to stand in either the sexually exclusive camp of Lesbian, or within the Ethnic label of Chicano. Indeed much of the book deals with the discrepancy and reconciliation between these two, and many other, seemingly irreconcilable position. However, the author does not want to leave either of these positions by the wayside. Seeing instead that the uniqueness of her position gives her a power to critique her culture while simultaneously doing so from the very position that often removes her from it, i.e. her sexual orientation. Thus the uniqueness of the work grows out of this lively and powerful acceptance of herself and though we might believe that such a position is foreign to "us," whoever this "us" might be. The reality is that this desire to not lock-down her identity into neat and tidy closed categories might serve to benefit all people regardless of sexual preference, ethnicity, class, gender, age, etc.

Beyond this central theme the essays also present a good source of understanding part of the Chicana/o experience through the dynamic sharing of their mythology, language, and culture. Though we might preface these essays with the notion that this is a creative work the scholarship behind them is evident as well, though not in any sense dry or boring, as some might "naturally" come to associate with academically acceptable material. And though some might come to her book with the assumption that its "just another whining minority voice," such a claim would find little grounds for support within the text, whose tone is more close to political forthrightness than complaining.

But politics aside the reason it is a great read is that it does not fall into an easy category, while at the same time stimulating a lot of thought particularly with regard to assumptions all of us make about sexuality and ethnicity, but also about language and religion. It challenges many and most of our usual way of looking at things. And thoug! h it does question traditional western/American institutions it does so in a way that opens up the possibility for change rather than decrying America as an innately evil, rather it gives us quite an impetus to rethink what we have learned about Chicana/os and people of alternative sexual orientation.

The book is a must read, ultimately not because of who is writing it, but rather because it has something, an energy and authenticity about it, that should appeal to any open minded reader out there. This is not to try to nail her down in a traditional sense as speaking from one selective pulpit, because the authenticity and legitimacy really is something that bleeds out of the truth of her own experiences. As a middle-class white heterosexual man I find the piece refreshing rather than threatening, precisely because it more fully articulates a way of tolerance and understanding of all people, and yet doesn't lead us into a position of loosing a foundation from which to speak words which challenge and insight.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Borderlands/La Frontera's Philosophical import, May 2, 2006
This review is from: Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera (Paperback)
Other reviewers have covered many of the qualities of the work, so I want to dwell on just one point - don't be fooled into thinking that this work is useful only as a personal study on Anzaldua's cultural/gender/queer theory.

Anzaldua is of high importance to any philosophy of the social; within her writing you can find the key insights of figures such as Derrida and Nietzsche, as they relate to personal identity crafted out of a fractured heritage. Her point is that we are ALL borderlanders given that the human condition involves being stretched across a chasm of self-alterity. Only through a full recognition of this can a critical inventory of the self be undertaken, which is a prerequisite to responsibility and genuine care of the self.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Politics and Poetry, September 17, 2003
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This review is from: Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera (Paperback)
The US- Mexican border es una herida abierta 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.
--Anzaldua
This is a superb book. It approaches the themes relating to Chicano identity, and does so through poetry that extends from the included poems to the cultural-socioeconomic exploration that the body of the text undergoes.
In response to negative reviews posted: yes, Borderlands does confront emotional and cultural issues brought up in other Chicano/ border-culture texts. So what. Not enough books have been written about this, especially in this format that reacts to Chicano/ border-related issues in both an intellectual and emotional/ artistic mannor. The book does this with a beautiful poeticism that carries the essence of the hispanic literary tradition, bringing the culture of the written Spanish world into a primarily English-language book.
The Spanglish included is intended for an English-speaking audience, and is not in my opinion of the true transient nature which is inextricable from spoken Spanglish. So at times the language of the writing does feel a tad contrived; using Spanish as a highlighter for key words of certain themes as opposed to allowing it even-handed participation in the exploration of the author's thesis.
While somewhat obnoxious, this choice points to Anzaldua's desire to make this work accesible to people with little or no knowledge of Spanish. This can be seen as a beacon to draw in people who do not as yet see themselves as connected to the Chicano / Hispanic world.
If you like this book, check out the other collections put out by Aunt Lute (the book's original publisher), as well as writings by author/ playwright / peformer Cherrie Morraga, playwright Magdalia Cruz, poet/ artist Ivan Silen.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, June 28, 2007
This review is from: Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera (Paperback)
Not much can be said to some of the postings I see here--to those that suggest the third tier prose, those that call this work "racist," those that implore statements like "I hated it." These are the same people that vote for their own oppression, these are the very people that fancy their success on some sense of entitlement. Relax, you do not have to agree, but hear me out.

Classic. Classic.

With the colorful enagement of gender, consciousness, and subconscious indeterminacy, the creation of a new utopia (racial, linguistic, gender, cultural, etc) is suggested by the prose of self actualization. This book is about all of us--it is about the exchanges we have with domination, be it familial or societal. It's loose diction is its very strength, it does not confide to the subordination of patriachal, hegemonic forces of tradition. The reflexive allegorical stories and unpacking of our human complexity give it a breathing body and a compelling face.

Anzaldua suffered greatly for not writing like "the male pimps," those that claim a fanatical space in some high art and legitimacy canon. It was her filter of difference, it was her cries for something else, that connects with everyone at a spiritual level. I do not know how this can be connected to some mundane powerpoint presentation at a university; this piece involves the full of enagement of mind, body, and soul. To contextualize it--one needs to read consistently. In order to feel out her domain, one must be willing go beyond what "our mom said" or "what our 6th grade teacher" told us about this and that. This about the struggle for agency; this about search for Thoreau's Walden amidst sociohistorical forces that still "do not see."

Welcome it. This classic work of literature, philosophy, education...remains one of the most unrecognized treatises on being and becoming.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly beautiful writings of self discovery and of pride., October 10, 1997
By A Customer
Anzaldua bleeds not only her life but the life of many Chicanas, Latina Americanas, and Hispanic Women. Her experiences with the mythical Aztec legends offers a glimpse into the little known world of our ancestry. I could not help but stop my reading to breath and remeber my own history growing up here in California. Gloria is a sister and allows the pride within us to ooze out of our minds. This book is great for those who question their heritage and who do not realize where they come from. I applaude Gloria And my proffessor for allowing me to read this compostion of beauty, love of oneself, and of unity.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Novel approach to policy sciences, November 30, 2002
This review is from: Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera (Paperback)
While this book has been classified under the social sciences, the world's increasing complexity makes this an indispensible resource for the non-profit sector.
Instead of requiring (either intentionally or implied) individuals to choose between and rank various facets of themselves, Anzaldua makes the simple but bold proposition truw social change accepts all of an individual for whom they actually are. Only, then will all societies be able to move forward in pursuit of the oft-mythologized 'perfect world'. That the book (and author in some circles) is attacked for being 'spacey' or rambling says more about the reader's own internalized fear of 'difference' because this book was so inspiring.
Working in progressive movements, I know coalition building is critical to my policy objectives, but the prose helped me understand how emotionally positive the process was. Most 'conventional' public administration textbooks do a wonderful job talking about technology and finances, but rarely factor in the human dimension so profoundly as she does.
Anzaldua may wish to include translations from Spanish in future editions of the book because this would help residents of many other "borderlands" comprehend her own experiences and perspectives more easily than currently possible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for everyone interested in race/gender/culture, March 1, 2013
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I cannot recommend this work enough. It is very rare that you come across a book that will shake the very foundations of the way that you see the world. This book has done that for me. It is at once, life affirming, challenging, and encouraging. Read it and soak it in. I had to put it down several times to just let her ideas wash over me. Buy it, read it, and tell your friends about it.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not comfortable, but home!, July 6, 2002
This review is from: Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera (Paperback)
Anzaldua's Borderlands really inspired me much. My Spanish may not be very good, that I can still catch the feelings she had in her mind, intertwined with Spanish, English y otros dialectos Chicanos. While in thinking or writing, the standard language of one society often represents its high position with logic, rationality, and academic neutrality; yet dialects of different ethnic groups then thought to be personal, informal, or sentimental. Therefore, in most of the academic conferences, we rarely see scholars doing their lectures or theoretical debates in dialects, and then ¡K.hmm¡K.our ¡§mother/grandmother/gran-granmother tongues¡¨ died in academia.
Anzaldua's multilingual texts did show us/US the new ways for revivification and liberation of ethnic minority languages both in academia y nosotras/os corazones. I expect to read more multilingual literature in the future, and I hope everybody can try to respect languages from different cultures or even from different perspectives. Don't just say that they are not worthy of reading since you don't really understand what they are trying to tell you! Reading about Anzaldua and her people's struggles may not be very comfortable, but to me the situation is quite familiar just like being home!
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21 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oye, chica! Como hablas!, February 4, 2010
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This review is from: Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera (Paperback)
Rather than jump into the political debates of identity and race, I thought I'd mention some unusual aspects of Anzaldua's use of language. Page references are to the third edition.

Anzaldua's use of language is both inclusive (it contains elements of her eight spoken languages plus Nahuatl, p. 77) and exclusionary - she adamantly refuses to translate for her non-multi-lingual readers. Her use of Spanish is rather peculiar and begins in the very title of her work: La Frontera. Part of what makes it so peculiar is her frequent use of Spanish-English cognates, coupled with huge portions of untranslated text. "La Frontera" is easily understood by non-Spanish speakers to be "The Frontier" although she (appropriately enough) translates it as "border" or "borderlands". "El otro México" and "Aztecas del norte" (p. 23) continue the cognate approach, but wedged between them is a larger, untranslated passage, generally inaccessible to non-Spanish speakers. Spanish is then sprinkled across the following pages, including slang (what she calls "Chicano Spanish" - p. 79): "pa' `trás", "pa' `delante", "gabacho" etc. (p. 25). On the very same page she defines la frontera: "Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them." Anzaldua does not hesitate to set up her linguistic fences, to establish her fronteras - to keep the foreigners (Gringos) out. She sets traps around the river beds of language and beneath the bridges of translation (p. 33) to carefully police her territory from the incursions of the unwanted.

When she does translate, one wonders why she bothers. Swiftly, on pages 47 - 48 she translates individual words, a patronizing joke in which she even provides endnote translations for cognates (veneno: venom, poison), or bizarrely personal translations (nalgas becomes "vagina"). More confusing is her translation of Silvio Rodriguez' poem in which her verbs take on new meanings in translation: "Oh, oh, oh, la mató ..." is shifted into first person and present tense as "Oh, oh, oh, I kill one..." Meaning is lost when she translates "con serpientes" into "of serpents" and not "with serpents". But perhaps there is method to her madness. Her endnote 14 (p. 51) is in Spanish, referring to a translation - which itself is a contestable translation: "Algunos dicen que Guadalupe es una palabra derivida del lenguaje árabe que significa "Río Oculto." Anzaldua cites de Paola (1980) who in turn is citing the French historian Jacques Lafaye (1976). Lafaye argues that a "rio oculto" is a "river flowing between high banks" (Lafaye p. 217), but in the romantic mythology of Anzaldua's writing, the English-language associations with the word "occult" are much more appealing.

Occlusion is also a valuable reason for Anzaldua's lack of translation from Spanish. Her quotation of the Violeta Parra poem (p. 28, untranslated) would lose some of its mystery if it were revealed to be a sympathetic remembrance to the ghostly chilenos, victims of Pinochet, and not to a dispossessed Indian or mestizo populace. She occludes her sources with her use of the mythological narrative formula "some say..." (p. 51). She occludes complexity in favor of mythic narrative with her bald assertions that "La Virgen de Guadalupe's Indian name is Coatlalopeuh." (p. 49) She occludes logic and reason, reversing historical narratives ("Because Coatlalopeuh was homophonous to the Spanish Guadalupe, the Spanish identified her with the dark Virgin, Guadalupe, patroness of West Central Spain." p. 51; or, as Orsini Dunnington notes, "Some 360 years after the original apparition sequence, Mariano Jacobo Rojas announced that the Virgin had wished to be known as `Coatlaxopeuh,' or `She who crushed the serpent's head.' No early chronicle notes this genesis." Orsini Dunnington p. 8) Linguistic occlusion serves well Anzaldua's decimation of the fences of history, logic, and verifiability.
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Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera
Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua (Paperback - May 15, 1999)
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