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Moving Through the Borderlands: The Racial Politics of Mestizaje in Gloria Anzaldua’s (1987) Borderlands/La Frontera

Hernandez, Carolina Renne (2022) Moving Through the Borderlands: The Racial Politics of Mestizaje in Gloria Anzaldua’s (1987) Borderlands/La Frontera. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Since its publication, Anzaldua’s (1987) Borderlands has provided a multi-faceted and highly influential description of Chicanx ethnic experiences. Although sociological work on Latinx racial and ethnic experiences continues to grow, the impact of Anzaldua’s (1987) work remains understudied despite its influence on the work of prominent Latinx feminists, activists, and scholars. Most foundational to Latinx thought are Anzaldua’s (1987) theories of mestizaje-as-multiculturalism, and by extension as a pan-ethnicity. Because of this, Anzaldua’s (1987) Borderlands/La Frontera serves as a prime, albeit unconventional, starting place for this sociological investigation of Latinx racial construction. I use close, contextualized reading of Anzaldua’s work, particularly her calls for interracial solidarity vis a vis the “new mestiza consciousness” for this theoretical intervention. I argue that by framing interracial solidarity through mestizaje, or mixed-race identity, Anzaldua (1987) affirms biological deterministic understandings of race, and by extension, reifies a White supremacist status quo. I challenge Anzaldua’s (1987) theories of “mestiza consciousness” as a primary path out of racial oppression, and chart similarities between Anzaldua’s “new mestiza” and Mexican Secretary of Education Jose Vasconcelos’ (1925) theories of mestizaje. Lastly, I assess the ways Anzaldua assumes an essentialist approach to race through biological language and rhetoric. From these explorations of race in Borderlands, I argue that fulfilling Anzaldua’s still relevant goals for interracial solidarity against White supremacy requires a thorough analysis of the historical and current ways mestizaje operates as a tool of oppression, a departure from mestizaje in all its forms, and a turn towards the intellectual and activist work of Indigenous and Black scholars.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hernandez, Carolina Rennecrh83@pitt.educrh83
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBloom,
Committee MemberMurphy,
Date: 6 June 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 November 2021
Approval Date: 6 June 2022
Submission Date: 26 March 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 57
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Latinx; race, Anzaldua; borderlands; mestizaje; latin american; Indigenous studies; Black studies; ethnic studies; latinidad; Latinx studies; decolonization
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 15:58
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2022 15:58

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  • Moving Through the Borderlands: The Racial Politics of Mestizaje in Gloria Anzaldua’s (1987) Borderlands/La Frontera. (deposited 06 Jun 2022 15:58) [Currently Displayed]


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