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Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  8,182 ratings  ·  327 reviews
Anzaldua, a Chicana native of Texas, explores in prose and poetry the murky, precarious existence of those living on the frontier between cultures and languages. Writing in a lyrical mixture of Spanish and English that is her unique heritage, she meditates on the condition of Chicanos in Anglo culture, women in Hispanic culture, and lesbians in the straight world. Her essa ...more
Hardcover, Second Edition, 260 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Aunt Lute Books (first published 1987)
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4.28  · 
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 ·  8,182 ratings  ·  327 reviews


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Barry Pierce
Anzaldúa’s most famous work, a collection of essays and poetry is a refreshing and important book. I read this for my Chicana literature course and it is by far the touchstone of Chicana studies. Anzaldúa writes very personal but powerful essays on what it means to be Chicana and what it’s like living in a country in which she is seen as a second or third class citizen. Her poetry is political but highly readable and perfectly complements the essays in this collection. I highly recommend this wo ...more
Mona Kareem
Oct 31, 2013 added it
Shelves: favorites
“Culture is made by those in power- men. Males make the rules and laws; women transmit them.” - Anzaldua, 16
This is really a great book that I will surely go back to over and over. There is a certain point that i find revolutionary and inspiring to me in this text. In the second chapter, Anzaldua navigates her position between a patriarchal culture and the white man’s violence. At page 22, Anzaldua mentions ‘sisters’ who glorify colored cultures to “offset the extreme devaluation of it by white
...more
Tinea
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: americanas/os, including gringas/os
Recommended to Tinea by: Kristin and many others
Gorgeous writing, crafting a way of seeing, experiencing, being in the world. Identity politics at its most rooted and important. The first half of this book is a critical theory essay on the epistemology (way of knowing) of a person whose very being is sin frontéras, crossing borders: Chicana, mestiza, queer, woman, class mobile and educated, critical. This first part devolves a little into esoteric musings I couldn't always grasp; reading, listening, but acknowledging that I didn't understand. ...more
a.novel.femme
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
i have read, am reading, and will continue to read this text as part of preparing for my masters exam in literature. specifically, i am looking at the borderland that anzaldua speaks of as a place of passing (racial, sexual, class) for individuals, and what it means to constantly exist in that space, without a homeland to move toward or away from.

anzalduas prose and poetry are both symbolic and dense; parts of the book are written in spanish, and my understanding of the language is embarrassing
...more
Ruthie Jones
This book appeals to me on an anthropological level (it brought back a lot of memories of my cultural anthropology classes). The author, however, goes above and beyond to explain (defend?) her culture while maintaining an accusatory tone towards European-American (white) culture. This type of writing is neither unique nor unexpected, so the author's attitude doesn't bother or surprise me. Studying anthropology has definitely made me aware of the pitfalls of ethnocentrism as well as the joys of l ...more
Sumayyah
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” by Gloria Anzaldúa is a HIGHLY recommended book for anyone interested in indigenous religion, gender studies, the history of the Southwestern United States, the history of the Chicano people, and ALL women of color.

Some passages that resound:

A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary.

The world is not a safe place to live in. We shiver in separate cells in enclosed cities, shoulders hunched, b
...more
Miguel
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to "review" something this good, this special, this singular. It also seems unnecessary. After all, this is a germinal, oft referenced, essential book for reasons that quickly become self-evident after opening its pages. But I can offer a sentence or two, despite sounding like ad copy.

What Anzaldúa offers here, among other things, is a powerful weaving of psychoanalysis with a meditation of the radical heterogeneity of identities and experiences organized under the rubrics of indigeno
...more
Laura
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wild, formidable, preoccupied with Kristevian semiotics. Gloria Anzaldua ambitiously discusses how la mestiza must straddle three cultures: American, Mexican, and Indigenous, and asserts that what is needed is a "tolerance for ambiguity" and an internalization of the mulitplicity of female selves. She describes this internalization as an internalization of the attributes of the Nahua Goddess, Coatlicue. A very sensual, politically and socially conscious book.
Katie McCleary
May 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love the gray
For the mid-80s thinking and theory about the intersection of culture, race, and feminism--this book is radical. A bible to understanding what it means to live in a borderland... a fast read, engaging, but VERY thought provoking. the form mixes, Spanish/Chicanoism, poetry, prose, theory, academia, and the essay- Anzaldua continually disrupts you and the text, always evolving the question of identity.
Sara Salem
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is one of the classics in feminist decolonial theory. It's a beautiful story about Anzaldua's life as a Chicana growing up near the US-Mexico border. I could relate to what she says about mixed races and borders and identity. But somehow I found it difficult to agree with her on culture. Blanket generalizations about culture being bad never sit well with me since we are never outside of culture, and so presumably good and bad both come from culture.
Monica
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Truly one of the most influential reads during my doctoral studies!
Claudia
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Cuál es la historia que debemos construir? Cómo construimos esa historia? Quién debe contarla? Qué idioma? Qué es el idioma? La tinta es el camino para deconstruir la cultura o construirla?

La imagen de la mujer se traduce en un nuevo cuerpo que reclama un nuevo lugar.

Which is the History that we should build? How do we build that History? Who should tell the History? Which language? What is language? Black ink as a way to deconstruct culture or build it?

The image of women is translated into a n
...more
Jessica
Exhausting. A lot of it resonated with me so much that I found myself rereading certain passages immediately, which frankly is more work than I usually put into my leisure reading. That's also probably why it took me 5 months to finish!
Abigail
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Interested in the Concept of Border Studies
I read the second edition of this book for a Latina/o Studies class in college, and found it such a powerful experience that I began pushing it on all my friends. One of them finally took me up on my offer to borrow it, and predictably, it is now lost somewhere in Mumbai!

A collection of essays and poems, written in both English and Spanish, Borderlands/La Frontera was a ground-breaking book that helped pave the way for the concept of "border studies." Brilliant, and at time bitter, it explores t
...more
Lisa Kentgen
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The primary reason this gets five stars is its importance -- in the 80s when it was written and even moreso now. It was a groundbreaking classic then (especially for people who identified as chicana and/or lesbian) and, I think, absolutely needs to be read by a larger audience now. Gloria Anzaldua writes about the experience of inhabiting multiple identities (chicana, male/female, lesbian, mexican, indigenous, texan) and the challenge of moving in multiple worlds (at times all most have rejected ...more
M.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A buck toothed kid who grows up in a mixed working class family with a Mexican dad she only sees on Mondays for most of her life falls in love with cyborgs and years later comes across this book at the tail end of a bereft and difficult two years where she's been too sad and overcome with anger at the world to find anything in it to ground herself. Roses and serpents and la Virgen de Guadalupe and spanish words and spirit language and dark stillness. This continent we walk on has a history as ol ...more
Kathleen
This book is important for many people. However, I am not one of those people. As much as I want to wholeheartedly endorse Anzaldúa, I just can't. There are some great ideas in this book--but they're all inextricably tied up with essentialist claims about gender, race, and ethnicity. To read and use Anzaldúa, one has to take on her biological metaphysics and spirituality. And I just can't take those things on. I don't believe that Indian blood is different from any other human's blood. I don't t ...more
Joanna Eleftheriou
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
HowOhHowOhHowOhHow did I make it this long without reading this book? It would feel weird to say I love it, it's that close... I always felt like chicana mestizas were talking about me, the greek-gringo mestiza... it all sounds right... but WHAT GENRE IS IT? It doesn't read like your typical essay or memoir. LOTS OF EXPOSITION (which I adore, but which usually gets nailed in workshop). So what is this book? Why do we care? Because we are writing a comps essay, first of all and second of all, bec ...more
Cristina
This book was amazing. I can't believe I barely discovered it last semester. She is so brilliant! I hate that I discovered her after she passed away. I wish I would have had the chance to meet her. There are so quotes in this book that I love. She really captures what it is like to embrace all the pieces of yourself even though society is constantly telling you to choose. She captures what its like when even people within your own ethnic group who claim they understand turn around and tell you t ...more
Mary
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think I could read this book 10 more times and still learn more.
Wendy Trevino
re-reading in 2016. hope to review soon.
Hafsa
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-college
The BookBum Club: Sept theme - Back To School – Reread a "required reading" book you read in school / Read a book that's on school curriculums / Reread a book you read while attending school.

Currently, I don't have the time and energy to form coherent reviews because college takes all my time but I'm glad my teacher included this as a reading for my writing class! Such thoughtful, mystical prose and poetry as well as highly charged content on language, race and ethnicity to read. Highly recommen
...more
Veronica
Jan 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Having finished the first portion of the book (as the rest is poetry), I can say that I quite enjoyed it. The book reads like a monologue, something I believe Anzaldua intended. She stated that she's an adamant believers in writing truths and I was struck with how blatantly open her words were and how much they hit home.

I don't refer to myself as a Chicana (as my Word Processor underlines chicana as a misspelled word, substituting it for Chicano, I'm remind of Anzaldua's passage "Chicanas use n
...more
Pace
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Gloria Anzaldua is a borderland. She sticks to no confines because "rigidity is death." She knows who she is and she knows that she is ever changing. She knows her culture, she knows her history, and she knows her biography.

In Borderlands/La Frontera, feminist Chicana Anzaldua uses several forms of writing (fiction, poetry, social history) to share with the world her culture. Through code-switching, she writes about what it means to be Mexican, American, and Native American. She explores how the
...more
ralowe
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
living in the san francisco mission district i realize i want to know more about malinche, holding antinormative spirits close within ambient colonized desire, sifting through a miscellaneous array of semi-viable compromises. if consciousness perceiving the phenomenon is always some kind of compromise, then how do we speak about this particular view from the street in amerikkka? people use this book to be able to turn compromise into a plus, and i really feel that. but i can't go there all the t ...more
Bart
Dec 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
Borderlands/La Frontera is supposed to be an important Latina feminist work, and I'm sure it was groundbreaking when it came out and important to many people now. I didn't really enjoy the poetry (half the book) or the experimental writing forms (a good part of the other half). I really enjoyed some parts of the book, such as Gloria Anzaldua's discussions on languages "we" speak and sexuality, but being bored by seventy percent of the book did not really leave me with a great impression.
Sonja
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: dissertation
A little too pissed off for my taste. There's nowhere to go with that anger -- like when someone therapeutically dumps all their crap on you and then THEY feel better; meanwhile, you're left with nothing but a steaming pile of doo-doo. I suppose I could find a more eloquent way of saying that, but you get the idea.
Catherine  Mustread
Essays and poetry about the Texas/SW-Mexico borderlands, selected as one of the Best Books of the Year by Library Journal in 1987, which might explain why it is on the library shelf -- that and the fact the library is in a town in a state which is part of the Borderlands. "This is her home -- this thin edge of -- barb wire."
MR
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it
read this for class. a lot of it was really engaging, like the historical info and identity connectivity thereof. but a lot of it... just didn't do it for me. strange and uncomfortable which im sure was liberating for the author as a writer but not always a great experience for the reader.
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Gloria E. Anzaldúa was a scholar of Chicana cultural theory, feminist theory, and queer theory. She loosely based her best-known book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, on her life growing up on the Mexican-Texas border and incorporated her lifelong feelings of social and cultural marginalization into her work.

When she was eleven, her family relocated to Hargill, Texas. Despite feeling dis
...more
“Wild tongues can't be tamed, they can only be cut out.” 74 likes
“Who is to say that robbing a people of its language is less violent than war?” 45 likes
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