Visuality and the archive : the Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa papers as a theory of social change

Bowen, Diana Isabel
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The Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa Papers, 1942-2004 are located in the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin. They contain published and unpublished works along with photographs, correspondence, artwork, notes, interviews, etc. As a woman of color who is interested in issues of social justice, disrupting dominant ideological binaries, and intersections of race, class, and gender, Anzaldúa has much to offer the field of rhetoric and communication studies. The purpose of the study is to derive Anzaldúa’s theory of social change. As a woman of color, Anzaldúa simultaneously aligns and differentiates herself from the Chicano movement and the feminist movement. Citing her, and other Chicana feminists concerns, she uses a theory of the B/borderlands as a generative theory from which she theorizes using nepantla and images. Her theory of social change is implicit and available to rhetors upon an examination of the official and unofficial texts available in her archive. Diana Taylor’s concepts of the archive (official texts) and the repertoire (unofficial performances and iterations) are used to examine Anzaldúa’s archival collection. The artifacts included an examination of Anzaldúa’s birth certificate and corrections compared with a short story “Her Name Never Got Called.” In addition a documentary Altar is examined and compared with conversations that led to its creation. An analysis of Anzaldúa’s archive suggests that there is an oscillation between the official archives and the unofficial performances. These movements reveal Anzaldúa’s favor for images as instrumental in her theory-making process; they reveal her imagistic theory of social change. Applying a theory of discourse from the borderlands that emerges out of the archive of Anzaldúa will make rhetoricians better equipped to study texts that speak back to dominant discourses and refuse oppressive binaries.