Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
According to the OED "mestizo/mestiza" is a person of mixed origin; originally a man with a Spanish father and an American Indian mother. Throughout chapter seven Anzaldua claims an indigenous background and cultural connections to that past. I particularly liked Anthony's reference to the caste system established by the Europeans during their conquest of the new world. I feel that Anzaldua sees definite similarities between the first conquest of America and the assimilation she suffered in her life as a chicana in the United States. What Anzaldua is doing is redefining the term mestiza as a source of empowerment instead of discrimination.
"Indigenous like corn, like corn, the mestiza is a product of crossbreeding, designed for preservation under a variety of conditions. Like an ear of corn-a female seed-bearing organ-the mestiza is tenacious, tightly wrapped in the husks of her culture. Like kernels she clings to the cob; with thick stalks and strong brace roots, she holds tight to the earth-she will survive the crossroads."
It is interesting that in reclaiming the term mestiza identifies with a living being that Natives of the region used for centuries for survival. She sees the durability of corn in her own ability to handle oppressive cultures. By "clinging to the earth" she can survive. By staying close to her culture, the universal culture of being a woman/poet/lesbian/chicana, she survives pressures that normally would not stand up to the tears between so many cultures. I think here i can agree that she breaks the "ethnic" terms of mestiza and claims a "cultural" one.
The definition that is portrayed by Anzaldua is loosely similar to the one given by the OED, but also, in many respects very different. It differs by, first of all, being more broadened to also encompass American decent as well as Indian and Mexican. And secondly, a feeling of being "lost" in between these different ancestries. Being of mixed ancestries she doesn't have one single land or culture that she can completely identify with or be completely acepted by.
One passage i feel describes this idea of "mestiza" is,
"So, don't give me your tenets and your laws. Don't give me your lukewarm gods. What i want is an accounting with all three cultures-white, Mexican, and Indian. I want the freedom to carve and chisel my own face, to staunch the bleeding with ashes, to fashion my own gods out of my entrails. And if going home is denied me then i will have to stand and claim my space, making a new culture-una cultura mestiza-with my own lumber, my own bricks, and mortar and my own feminist architecture.
I feel that this passage really show her definition of "mestiza," becuase it shows that she has no real belonging to any of the specific cultures and instead of trying to belong to one, would rather be considered her own culture.
According to the OED, a “mestiza” is a person of mixed origin. Originally this term referred in particular to a female with a Spanish father and an American Indian mother. As Anzaldua begins to sketch her "new mestiza," this more specific definition of a Chicano daughter of mixed heritage begins to blur and we are introduced to a women who's mixed cultural, sexual, and historical understandings of self compose a more fluid "mestiza" identity that is not just a reference to mixed race.
Mestiza: When we look at the literal meaning, Mestiza is used to describe a person of mixed decent, usually of European and American Indian blood. This term was coined around the late 1500's and early 1600's, around the time the Spanish ruled over Central America. They developed a caste system which separated the people into different classes based on their racial characteristics. A Mestizo is someone who is the offspring of a European and American Indian or the offspring of two Mestizo parents. When we examine the differences between the literal definition and Anzaldua's take on the term, we must remember that Ms. Anzaldua says “New Mestiza” in her title. I think the “New” part is very important because she is not talking about Mestiza in the context of the Spanish caste system, she is referring to Mexican-American women of today. While Anzaldua was growing up, she struggled with her identity because she didn't want to take the mantle of the traditional sub-servant female. "She has this fear that she has no names… that she has many names…that she doesn't know her names." (Anzaldua 65). The author is attempting to re-define what her identity is and the role of Mexican-American women who have survived and thrived along the border region of Mexico and America. The women who lived in that region were forced to adapt to new cultures and challenges, it was necessary for the “Mestiza Consciousness” to adapt as well to cope with the new challenges they faced.
Found in the OED, a “mestiza” is a person of mixed origin; originally a woman with a Spanish father and an American Indian mother.
In Borderlands/La Frontera Anzaldua is describing the complexity of being a new Mestiza. To label yourself as a new Mestiza you are automatically expressing multitudes of races, cultural and ideological terms into this one word. You can think of it as a contradiction within itself. Because as a Mestiza you do not belong to one category but intertwine with a range of others. However, this does not bring absolute acceptance. A Mestiza has indigenous ancestry but also shares current civilization blood and traditions. She is ambiguous and has no actual place she can call home. She spends her time trying to figure out who she is, where she belongs and how she got in this current situation.
In La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a new Consciousness, Anzaldua is clearly describing herself in this passages she identifies herself as a lesbian, a feminist and a women. I love the sentence in parenthesis because it’s such a great example of one of the many categories a Mestiza can identify with:
“As a lesbian I have no race, my own people disclaim me; but I am all races because there is the queer of me in all races.” Just like a lesbian not being accepted by her own people and or other races Mestizas to form an overall race that other women can relate to. Like many other non Latin American places there are plenty of other women that deal with this multicultural conflict.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
In the context of Borderlands/La Frontera, Gloria Anzaldúa links her self-identification of a mestiza to being at a crossroads, not only in the matters of race, but where her cultural identity stands as being virutally nonexistent under the Anglo hierarchy (which had, in turn, affected Mexican hierarchy). In other words, she assigns different definitions for "ethnic" mestiza and "cultural" mestiza.
As an ethnic mestiza, she still believes that the only solution from being exiled is to create a new culture. In the eyes of her motherland (and its inhabitants), she is worthless, nonexistent, "cultureless". But Anzaldúa sees herself as otherwise, proving her worth by "participating in the creation" of her mestiza culture.
"(R)evolution works out the clash of cultures. It makes us crazy constantly, but if the center holds, we've made some kind of revolutionary step forward."And like any culture, it is a building block upon other cultures beneath it:
Indigenous like corn, like corn, the mestiza is a product of crossbreeding, designed for preservation under a variety of conditions. Like an ear of corn--a female seed-bearing organ--the mestiza is tenacious, tightly wrapped in the husks of her culture. Like kernels she clings to the cob; with thick stalks and strong brace roots, she holds tight to the earth--she will survive the crossroads.Anzaldúa describes mestiza as indigenous, meaning that it is only natural for this culture to be cultivated within the confines of Mexican culture. By giving birth to culture, she is free to contribute meanings and images that are relevant and pay homage to its ancestors, much like how the ethnic mestiza was created.
Borderlands/ La Frontera
According to the Oxford English Dictionary’s official website a “mestiza” is a person of mixed origin; originally a man with a Spanish father and an American Indian mother. When Christopher Columbus first disembarked in the new world in 1492, he discovered a world populated by indigenous people, described as “uncivilized” and “exotic.” Decades later, with the arrival of Spanish conquerors, the indigenous race was violently vanished from the world, and a new race began to flourish. It is written in our history that the first mestizo in America was the son conceived by Hernan Cortes and Malitzin.
In her book Borderlands/ La frontera, Gloria Anzaldua destroys the image of a mestiza along with every convention and definition that has been imposed to her, and recreates a new identity and meaning. This new mestiza, as described by Anzaldua, is “the coming together of two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference.” She is tolerable, has dual personality, and learns to coexist between two opposite worlds. She is the Virgen de Guadalupe and la Malinche, the good and the bad, she is everything and nothing.
“As a mestiza I have no country, my homeland cast me out; yet all countries are mine because I am every women’s sister or potential lover. (As a lesbian I have no race, my own people disclaim me; but I am all races because there is the queer of me in all races.) I am cultureless because, as a feminist, I challenge the collective cultural/religious male-derived beliefs of indo-Hispanics and Anglos; yet I am cultured because I am participating in the creation of yet another culture.
In this passage Anzaldua, describes the necessity of the new mestiza to become neutral, universal, a person who can be turned into different directions, someone who can be everything at once, and at the same time be nothing.
Anzaldua uses the word "mestiza" for meaning "caught between". Anzaldua is caught between the borderlands physically and spiritually. Her definition of the word mestiza can be somewhat similar to the OED definition. Many times a person of mixed races can feel caught between the two. They may have trouble figuring out which race they identify more with. This is similar to Anzaldua's definition of mestiza because the person is caught between two different cultures. The definitions are different because Anzaldua uses the word mestiza more as a feeling or state of mind rather than a description of an actual person.
The passage that conveys Anzaldua's meaning of the word "mestiza" the best is:
" The new mestiza copes by developing a tolerance for contradictions, a tolerance for ambiguity. She learns to be an Indian in Mexican culture, to be Mexican from an Angle point of view. She learns to juggle cultures. She has plural personality, she operates in a pluralistic mode - nothing is thrust out, the good the bad and the ugly, nothing rejected, nothing abandoned. Not only does she sustain contradictions, she turns the ambivalence into something else. "
This passage is a good definition of what the a mestiza is to Anzaldua. It shows that the mestiza is caught between two different cultures and has to accept the fact that she has to constantly change to fit in with those cultures.
Monday, September 21, 2009
This week, we're reading Gloria Anzaldúa's foundational work, Borderlands/La Frontera with attention to its genre shifting, self-reflexivity, cultural and identity politics, and/or its relationship to queer theory. Yes, all of those things and quite a few more are working/playing in this text, which is in part what makes it so beautiful and difficult.
As an entry point into the formal structure of this work and its relationship to the overall meaning, I would like you to begin the exercise for this week by looking up the word "mestiza" in the OED Online. Follow the etymological trail to the word's origins and related terms (i.e., mestizo, mestizaje), and identify key characteristics of the term. Then, explain how the definitions you encounter in the OED differ from those offered by Anzaldúa. (You will, of course, need to summarize or define how the author uses the term.)
Finally, identify a passage (either prose or poetry) that most directly encompasses Anzaldúa's conception of "mestiza" and explain why.