Thursday, March 25, 2010

New World Tropes


This is but the beginning of an unpacking of the Aztec/Nahua term 'nepantilism'--as a trope, it captures the lived contradiction Anzaldua identifies as being a part of the mestiza consciousness. As someone interested in the rhetoric that the study of the New World possesses, I'm using this space to map some of the ways that I begin to examine the theoretical power of this trope when further developed as a theory for conceptualizing inner and outer conflict.

From Chapter Seven of Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera:

“In a constant state of “nepantilism,” an Aztec word meaning “torn between ways,” la mestiza is a product of the transfer of the cultural and spiritual values of one group to another. Being tri-cultural, monolingual, bilingual, or multilingual, speaking a patois, and in a state of perpetual transition, the mestiza faces the dilemma of the mixed breed; which collectivity does the daughter of a darkskinned mother listen to?”(78)

Teaching controversy analysis, I feel like Nepantilism could serve as a generative title, re-naming the assignment in a way that reframes it as something more culturally situated, a practice I hope encourages student engagement. As academics, or even for burgeoning academics, developing a sense of an academic identity might feel as though being torn in a different direction than the pre-college self--nepantilism might help conceptualize the inner turmoil one feels submitting to certain practices over one's cultural ways of being.

I found this interesting Slideshow by artist Isis Rodriguez, which integrates the notion of Nepantla, and Rodriguez has a really interesting gallery on her site that's worth checking out.

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