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Benson Latin American Collection acquires Anzaldúa archive

The archive of renowned feminist author, cultural theorist and independent scholar Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua (1942-2004) has been acquired by the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The archive of renowned feminist author, cultural theorist and independent scholar Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa (1942-2004) has been acquired by the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin.

The Anzaldúa archive contains manuscripts of the author’s major published works, including “Borderlands/La Frontera” and her “Prieta” stories, as well as unpublished manuscripts, notebooks, correspondence, lectures, and audio and video interviews. In total, there is about 100 linear feet of material included in the archive.

Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Anzaldúa is widely recognized for her contributions to women’s and gender studies and Chicano culture and history. She was born on a ranch in the Valley region of South Texas where her family worked in agriculture, even following the migrant routes for a year. Anzaldúa experienced first-hand the hardships of the dispossessed Mexican American community along the border with Mexico, and was also confronted by traditional conservatism within that community as she developed her own lesbian identity. These struggles had a profound influence on the trajectory of her education and writing.

Anzaldúa graduated from Pan American University in 1969 and received a master’s degree in English from The University of Texas at Austin in 1972. She taught women’s studies, creative writing and third world women’s literature while working toward a doctor’s degree at the University of California—Santa Cruz, and lectured and taught at a number of colleges and universities, including San Francisco State University, Oaks College and Norwich University in Vermont. She also held the position of Distinguished Visiting Professor in Women’s Studies at the University of California—Santa Cruz.

Anzaldúa’s work has received significant critical acknowledgment for its singular voice and innovation and was especially praised for its scope and accessibility. She used her writing to explore her Chicana and lesbian identities and wrote as a feminist and woman of color. In the introduction to “Making Face, Making Soul” she wrote, “Theory produces effects that change people and the way they perceive the world…‘Necesitamos teorías’ [we need theories] that will rewrite history using race, class, gender and ethnicity as categories of analysis, theories that cross borders, that blur boundaries—new kinds of theories with new theorizing methods.”

At times, Anzaldúa’s discursive style put her at odds with formal academia. Her most famous work, “Borderlands/La Frontera,” is an autobiographical work that combines theory, personal introspection and poetry, a fusion that placed it in opposition to traditional academic precepts against mixing genres. Today “Borderlands” is widely read in college courses along with “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings of Radical Women of Color,” which Anzaldúa co-edited with Cherrie Moraga. Both texts have been successful in bringing the voices of women of color into the mainstream feminist discourse.

“I feel profoundly honored and privileged to know that our university has acquired such a magnificent wealth of knowledge, a priceless contribution that will forever build bridges across many disciplines and areas of specialty, including but not limited to Mexican American, feminist and sexuality studies,” says Gloria González-López, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Sociology. “Beyond borders, the incalculable value of this acquisition will become a precious intellectual resource for all members of our local, national and international communities of academics, activists and artists. The irreplaceable presence of Gloria E. Anzaldúa will always be alive through the profound consciousness her courageous and ground-breaking intellectual work stimulated and transformed in the lives of countless members of our society.”

Anzaldúa’s papers will be processed over the next year by staff at the Benson with the help of the university’s Center for Mexican American Studies and will be completed and available for access to researchers in fall 2006.

The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, a unit of the University of Texas Libraries, is a specialized research library focusing on materials from and about Latin America and on materials relating to Latinos in the United States. The collection contains nearly 900,000 books, periodicals and pamphlets, 2,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 19,000 maps, 21,000 microforms, 11,500 broadsides, 93,500 photographs and 38,000 items in a variety of other media.

For more information contact: Travis Willmann, University of Texas Libraries, 512-495-4644.