The Academic Borderlands: On Learning from Gloria Anzaldúa

Samantha Solis
UC Los Angeles

I take up Gloria Anzaldúa’s work and legacy to reflect on the changing material conditions that underpin and animate minoritarian thought and writing. Anzaldúa’s relationship to the academy during her life was a fraught one. While in the 1990s and early 2000s she began receiving institutional recognition, she also faced many challenges in her pursuit of higher education, including financial precarity, chronic illness, and structural racism. These struggles with the material conditions of the writing itself are chronicled in most of Anzaldúa’s work, as she was highly invested in theorizing her own writing practice. It’s easy to find free PDFs of This Bridge and Borderlands online. The PDFs you’ll find, however, are annotated, and often compiled from various editions and sources, so the resulting document comes with marks that tell us about its own material history. I consider these digital traces to reflect on changes and through lines of graduate student precarity, particularly for minoritarian students. From Anzaldúa’s work and legacy, we can learn how to design public-facing tools for the discipline that tells us about refuge and refusal—work that pushes at academic conventions even as it remains invested in education.

Image credit: Pawel Czerwinski from Unsplash.