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Anzaldúan Thought Transcends Borderlands

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Scholars from different disciplines gather at UCSC in honor of poet and philosopher Gloria Anzaldúa

“I knew Gloria Anzaldúa very well, I miss her, I miss her presence in the world,” said UC Santa Cruz feminist studies professor Bettina Aptheker, as she took the podium to commence the two-day conference on the work of poet, philosopher and critical scholar Gloria Anzaldúa, who wrote about race, feminism, decolonization and queer theory.

“The Feminist Architecture of Gloria Anzaldúa: New Translations, Crossings and Pedagogies in Anzaldúan Thought,” a conference at UC Santa Cruz, was organized by professors Bettina Aptheker and Karen Tei Yamashita — who both share the UC Presidential Chair in Feminist Race and Ethnic Studies — and the Institute for Humanities Research (IHR) in collaboration with conference Co-chairs Cindy Cruz and Felicity Amaya Schaeffer.

Aptheker said Cruz and Schaeffer made a “wish list” of well-known, representative scholars in Chicano/Latino studies whose work draws from or relates to the “pioneering work” of Anzaldúa.

In one of her poems “Letting Go,” Anzaldúa writes, “It’s not enough / deciding to open. You must plunge your fingers into your navel / with your two hands split open / spill out the lizards and horned toads / the orchids and the sunflowers / turn the maze inside out / shake it.”

“This is what Gloria Anzaldúa did for us,” Aptheker said, “plunged in, split open, shook it all up and we are forever grateful, generation after generation.”

On April 10 and 11, about 100 students, faculty, staff and community members attended the conference each day to honor Anzaldúa, who taught at UCSC for over 20 years and whose legacy is a part of the 50th anniversary celebration on campus.

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