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Spread And Influence

Nonlinear thought and unfixed identities have intellectual and political appeal for numerous fields, especially those also influenced by poststructural and postmodern schools of thought. Because of the liberatory dimensions of the concept of mestizaje, it is widely used in postcolonial, ethnic, and feminist studies and Latino theology. Most credit Anzaldúa with creating the aperture for understanding and theorizing about the ability to have multiple social perspectives and positions with concrete material forms of oppression or privilege.

The scholars Chela Sandoval and Emma Pérez, as well as the Latino theologian Virgilio Elizondo, explore the implications of mestiza consciousness for U.S. Third World feminists, including Chicana feminists and Latino Catholic congregations, respectively. For Elizondo, mestizaje is divine grace, which elevates the spiritual qualities of mestizaje as articulated by Vasconcelos but without the Eurocentric imperative. Mestizaje becomes the existence that resurrects humanity, and all have the potential for salvation since Elizondo ultimately describes all cross-cultural contacts as mestizaje. Expansions of the concept by Elizondo and others have been met by intense criticism. Most Latino theologians, such as María Pilar Aquino and Gloria Inés Loya, present its historical specificity as an important term of its experience and path to salvation. The recuperative properties of mestizaje are significant for postcolonial scholars. Both Chicana feminists Pérez and Sandoval reveal how the new mestizaje offers a political method or compass for mobilizing oppositional forms of consciousness that will produce equity. It is a method that develops and exceeds the modes of assimilation, revolution, supremacy, and separatism, each of which is a strategy unable to reconcile or allow for the multiple social positions and perspectives as delineated by Anzaldúa.

By the early twenty-first century, the concept of hybridity and cross-cultural contact had permeated social science and humanities scholarship. It also continued to travel North, and French-Canadian scholars relate it to métissage (French; "mixed blood"). Whether universal or not, the contemporary reconfiguration explores sites of convergence and disjuncture with attention to the pressure of power, and its meaning can be used to assess the distance between mestizaje and métissage. Nevertheless, reformulations of mestizaje have recuperative power for those maligned by nation and empire, sexism and homophobia, material and political displacement. If the analysis of intercultural exchange includes attention to ambiguity and contradiction, mestizaje can continue to offer a strategy of resistance and liberation in the twenty-first century.


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Aquino, María Pilar, Daisy L. Machado, and Jeanette Rodríguez. A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology: Religion and Justice. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

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Loya, Gloria Inés. "Pathways to a Mestiza Feminist Theology." In A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology: Religion and Justice, edited by María Pilar Aquino, Daisy L. Machado, and Jeanette Rodríguez, 217–240. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

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Sandoval, Chela. "Mestizaje as Method: Feminists-of-Color Challenge the Canon." In Living Chicana Theory, edited by Carla Trujillo, 352–370. Berkeley, Calif.: Third Woman Press, 1998.

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Karen Mary Davalos

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Mathematics to Methanal trimerMestizaje - Origins, Chicanos And Mestizaje, Critique And Reformulation, Spread And Influence, Bibliography