Dr. Silvia C. Bettez
Associate Professor, Educational Leadership & Cultural Foundations
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
by Gloria Anzaldua
Struggling with naming my racial/ethnic identity, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, by Gloria Anzaldúa, was recommended to me by a writing tutor during my first year of college. In this richly contextualized book, Anzaldúa writes about a variety of borderlands including physical, psychological, sexual, and spiritual borderlands. She defines a new space, a new identity—the mestiza consciousness—a place where there is a tolerance for ambiguity and room for growth. Growing up with a Colombian mom and a French Canadian father, unsure of where I fit, in Borderlands I found a home where I could claim all parts of me, the mestiza identity.
At that time, the first edition had just been published and was heavily critiqued for not being "academic enough." Combining history, prose, theory, and poetry, the style itself broke borders in academic institutions, which valorized rigid boundaries that Anzaldúa not only traversed but also challenged. Four editions later, it is still taught in a variety of disciplines in universities across the country.
Anzaldúa’s writing was my refuge, validation for both who I am and my capacity to write. Last year I published my own book about the experiences of mixed race women, continuing Anzaldúa’s tradition of breaking boundaries and sharing the mestiza experience. Borderlands/La Frontera continues to be my favorite book. I now teach it in my graduate-level Passionate Pedagogies course. Many of the students, like me, love this book; it inspires them to think and write in new ways. In 2012 the publisher released a 25th anniversary edition, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in 25 years we see a 50th anniversary edition.