Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Marcia Douglas

Second Advisor

Noah Eli Gordon

Third Advisor

Lindsay Roberts

Abstract

To be mestiza and Latina is to occupy the liminal space between two languages, cultures, and races. This experience of liminality has been exacerbated for me as a result of my parentage: being indigenous New Mexican on my father’s side and white American on my mother’s, I have struggled throughout my life not only to reconcile the history of Spanish colonization in Mexico, but also the intersection of, and tension between, my white American and brown indigenous selves. Therefore, this work is an effort to acknowledge and reconcile the split self that defines the mestizo and Latino identities: it is mired in cultural ruin, superstition, religion, bilingualism, and resilience.

In conversation with works such as Gloria Anzaldúa’s mestiza bible, Borderlands/La Frontera, and Gabriel García Marquéz’s Cien Años de Soledad, this work approaches a number of themes concurrent with the mestizo experience, including the significance of language to the culture, the effects of the Trump administration on the Latinx community, and the importance of our indigenous past in the shaping of our current identity. The work also aims to form a conversation within itself, which includes a questioning of the idea of “good” Latinxs and “bad” Latinxs, and of the complex position white American women occupy in indigenous and Latinx spaces.

Ultimately, this work is a collection-as-catharsis and a collection-as-reclaiming: catharsis for the complexity of my relationship with being Latina, and a reclaiming of the identity that, as a result of slurs and hatred, I fought for a decade to disown.

Though these stories find loose roots in assorted family fact and fiction of the Martínez-Suazos, a group of mestizos from the New Mexico/Mexico borderlands, it is the intention of the piece that the experiences and characters resonate with anyone who has fought to reclaim their own histories. Therefore, the work is less concerned with what delineates fiction from nonfiction, and more concerned with truth. Like all good stories, it is my hope that the content of this work is true somewhere, whether it be in the future, in the past, or even inside just one reader.

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