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Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa (1990)

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa (September 26, 1942 – May 15, 2004) was a Mexican American feminist, author, poet, scholar and activist.

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Biography

Anzaldúa was born in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas on September 26, 1942 to Urbano Anzaldúa and Amalia Anzaldúa née García. Gloria Anzaldúa's great-grandfather, Urbano Sr., once a precinct judge in Hidalgo County, was the first owner of the Jesús María Ranch on which Anzaldúa was born. Anzaldúa's mother grew up on an adjoining ranch, Los Vergeles ("the gardens"), owned by the García family, and met and married Urbano Anzaldúa when both were very young. Anzaldúa is a descendant of many of the prominent Basque and Spanish explorers and settlers to come to the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries.

When Anzaldúa was only three months old, she began menstruating, one symptom of an endocrine condition that affected her into adulthood. As a child, Anzaldúa would wear special girdles fashioned for her by her mother in order to disguise her precocious sexual development. Her mother would also ensure that a cloth was placed in Anzaldúa's underwear as a child in case of bleeding. Anzaldúa remembers, "I'd take [the bloody cloths] out into this shed, wash them out, and hang them really low on a cactus so nobody would see them." Anzaldúa eventually underwent an operation to deal with uterine, cervical, and ovarian abnormalities[1].

At 11, her family relocated to Hargill, Texas. Despite the racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression she experienced growing up as a sixth-generation Tejana, as well as the death of her father from a car accident when she was fourteen, Anzaldúa obtained her college education. She received a B.A. from Pan American University, and an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.

As an adult, she worked for a few years as a schoolteacher before graduate school. She completed the coursework for a Master's degree in comparative literature at the University of Texas, Austin. In 1977 she moved to California where she supported herself through her writing, lectures, and occasional teaching stints at San Francisco State University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Florida Atlantic University, among other universities. She is perhaps most famous for coediting This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981) with Cherríe Moraga, editing Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color (1990), and coediting This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation (2002). She also wrote the semi-autobiographical Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987). Her children’s books include Prietita Has a Friend (1991), Friends from the Other Side - Amigos del Otro Lado (1993), and Prietita y La Llorona (1996). She has also authored many fictional and poetic works. Her works weave English and Spanish together as one language, an idea stemming from her theory of "borderlands" identity. Her autobiographical essay, "La Prieta," was published in (mostly) English in This Bridge Called My Back, and in (mostly) Spanish in Esta puente, mi espalda: Voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos.

Her works have won several awards: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color won the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award in 1986. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza was recognized as one of the 38 best books of 1987 by Library Journal and 100 Best Books of the Century by both Hungry Mind Review and Utne Reader. In 1991, Anzaldúa won a National Endowment for the Arts award for fiction and the 1991 Lesbian Rights Award. In 1992, she was awarded the Sappho Award of Distinction. She has also been awarded the Lambda Lesbian Small Book Press Award and the American Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

She has made contributions to ideas of "feminism" and has contributed to the field of cultural theory/Chicana and queer theory. One of her major contributions was her introduction to United States academic audiences of the term mestizaje, meaning a state of being beyond binary ("either-or") conception, into academic writing and discussion. In her theoretical works, Anzaldúa calls for a "new mestiza," which she describes as an individual aware of her conflicting and meshing identities and uses these "new angles of vision" to challenge binary thinking in the Western world. The "new mestiza" way of thinking is illustrated in postcolonial feminism.

While race normally divides people, Anzaldúa called for people of different races to confront their fears in order to move forward into a world that is less hateful and more useful. In "La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness," a text often used in women’s studies courses, Anzaldúa insisted that separatism invoked by Chicanos/Chicanas is not furthering the cause, but instead keeping the same racial division in place. Many of Anzaldúa’s works challenge the status quo of the movements in which she was involved. She challenged these movements in an effort to make real change happen to the world, rather than to specific groups.

Anzaldúa was a very spiritual person whose grandmother was a curandera (traditional healer). In many of her works she refers to her devotion to la Virgen de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe), Nahuatl/Toltec divinities, and to the Yoruba orishás Yemayá and Oshún. In her later writings, she developed the concepts of spiritual activism and nepantleras to describe the ways contemporary social actors can combine spirituality with politics to enact revolutionary change.

She died on May 15, 2004 at her home in Santa Cruz, California from complications due to diabetes. At that time she was working toward the completion of her dissertation to receive her doctorate from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Anzaldúa's published and unpublished manuscripts, among other archival resources, form part of the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin. Anzaldúa also maintained a collection of figurines, masks, rattles, candles, and other ephemera used as altar (altares) objects at her home in Santa Cruz, California. These altares were an integral part of her spiritual life and creative process as a writer.[2] The collection is presently housed by the Special Collections department of the University Library at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Awards

Works

Children's books

  • Prietita Has a Friend (1991)
  • Friends from the Other Side -Amigos del Otro Lado (1995)
  • Prietita y La Llorona (1996)

References

  1. ^ Anzaldua, Gloria with AnaLouise Keating. Interviews/Entrevistas. New York: Routledge, 2000.
  2. ^ Cited in the Biography section of the UCSC finding aid.
  • Anzaldúa, Gloria E., 2003. "La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness", pp. 179–187 in Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Eds. Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim. Routledge: New York.
  • Keating, AnaLouise, ed. EntreMundos/AmongWorlds: New Perspectives on Gloria Anzaldúa. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.
  • Keating, AnaLouise. Women Reading, Women Writing: Self-Invention in Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa and Audre Lorde. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1996.
  • Mack-Canty, Colleen. "Third-Wave Feminism and the Need to Reweave the Nature/Culture Duality" pp. 154–179 in NWSA Journal; Fall 2004, Vol. 16, Issue 3.
  • Pérez, Emma. "Gloria Anzaldúa: La Gran Nueva Mestiza Theorist, Writer, Activist-Scholar" pp. 1–10in NWSA Journal; Summer 2005, Vol. 17, Issue 2.
  • Reuman, Ann E. "Coming Into Play: An Interview with Gloria Anzaldua" p. 3 in MELUS; Summer 2000, Vol. 25, Issue 2.
  • Stone, Martha E. "Gloria Anzaldúa" pp. 1, 9 in Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide; Jan/Feb2005, Vol. 12, Issue 1.
  • Ward, Thomas. "Gloria Anzaldúa y la lucha fronteriza", in Resistencia cultural: La nación en el ensayo de las Américas, Lima, 2004, págs. 336-342

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