GLORIA E. ANZALDÚA did not abide border walls of the mind and map, but rather strode into those culturally fertile places that we cannot simply wall off.
Anzaldúa traveled where true scholars do not fear to tread: into the intellectual lands that seek not division, but common understanding.
So today, Google celebrates the late author on what would have been her 75th birthday, with a Doodle that places her squarely at the middle of the cultural river, where her ideas on Chicana cultural studies and queer and feminist theories could flow, undammed and enriching.
Not that living along dividing lines both physical and psychological was not harrowing. “It’s not a comfortable territory to live in, this place of contradictions,” said Anzaldúa, a daughter of the Rio Grande Valley who sprang from South Texas and lived in a string of rural towns along the Mexican American border.
She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Texas and headed to California to teach and write, leading to such works as “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color” (which she co-edited), the speech “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers” and her acclaimed semi-autobiographical “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza,” a 1987 work that combined prose and poem to illuminate the lives of those who live in multiple worlds.
Anzaldúa, who died in 2004 in Santa Cruz, posthumously received a doctorate in literature from the University of California Santa Cruz.
Since her death, the National Women’s Studies Association has created the Gloria E. Anzaldúa book prize to honor “groundbreaking monographs in women’s studies that makes significant multicultural feminist contributions to women of color/transnational scholarship.”
The cultural relevance of her writing remains as alive as ever.