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Queering the Cosmic Race: Esotericism, Mestizaje, and Sexuality in the Work of Gabriela Mistral and Gloria Anzaldúa

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Despite their differences in place and time, the woman-centered Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral and the Chicana lesbian feminist writer Gloria Anzaldúa both looked to a transnational intellectual American history that frequently connected discourses of esotericism, indigenismo, and mestizaje. My comparative approach shows how both women used these discourses as a way to reconceptualize the subjectivity of the queer, indigenous-identified mestiza in a modern world. Notions of a new cosmic consciousness achieved via racial synthesis echo through twentieth-century Latin American and Chicana/o texts; theosophical ideas about race and spirit were deeply influential in Mistral's writing and beliefs, and theosophy in turn informed the New Age feminist spirituality that helped shape Anzaldúa's work. Outlining a history of the connections between these esoteric beliefs and those of mestizaje, and indigenismo, I show how Mistral and, later, Anzaldúa inherited and rewrote these notions by incorporating them into a queer sensibility.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Aztlán presents original research that is relevant to or informed by the Chicano experience. An interdisciplinary, refereed journal, Aztlán focuses on scholarly essays in the humanities, social sciences, and arts, supplemented by thematic pieces in the dosier section, an artist's communiqué, a review section, and a commentary by the editor, Chon A. Noriega. Aztlán seeks ways to bring Chicano studies into critical dialogue with Latino, ethnic, American, and global studies.
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