Las Comadres Review
Genders 28 1998
Las Comadres:
Copyright ©1998 Genders.
A Feminist Collective Negotiates a New Paradigm for
Women at the U.S./Mexico Border

Other characteristics of a "minor literature" ertinent to this performance were that each individual story

connects immediately to politics.
The individual concern thus becomes
all the more necessary,
indispensable, magnified, because a
whole other story is vibrating
within it. In this way, the family
triangle connects to other triangles
- commercial, economic,
bureaucratic, juridical - that
determine its values.27

All of the grandmother stories connected in this way to the grand narratives of national and international history. Additionally, the "minor" is the situation of immigrants, who

live in a language that is not their
own . . . and no longer, or not yet,
even know their own and know poorly
the major language that they are
forced to serve . . . .

The "minor" is thus nomadic, moving between margin and center, operating always in a kind of border zone - a situation that pertained for all the women in the kitchen.

Scenographically, there was a border zone in this drama. Between the kitchen and the media/conflict room was a sculpture featuring the mandala-shaped aura of the Virgin of Guadalupe, its upper region sliced through by a chain saw, the entire construction positioned behind a chain-link fence . Intermittently, the young bride-to-be Figure 4 The Mandala, Border Boda]placed herself behind the fence within the mandala's empty frame, uncertain as to whether - or how - she might occupy it. At one point in the drama she seemed to be trapped in this space, and, with frustrated longing reached alternately first toward the Mexican and then to the U.S. side. The implication was that she was caught between two worlds, uncertain even of her relationship to the Virgin of Guadalupe, quintessential icon of Mexican identity. Indeed, at one point the bride stated: "I don't know what it means to be Mexican." But Guadalupe has a wider resonance than Mexicanness, for she is, of course, one of the paradigms of womanhood in Mexican culture. It was not merely her relationship to Guadalupe that the young bride needed to clarify, but her own identity as a Chicana caught between two cultures. Indeed, it was their relationship to paradigms of womanhood that the Comadres were exploring in Border Boda as well as their desire to put forward and articulate a new paradigm - Anzaldúa's concept of the mestiza.

Mexican culture holds out three "cultural root paradigms" for/of women, although some scholars include a fourth and fifth. I borrow this concept of "cultural root paradigm" from Victor Turner who has defined it as a model that is continually reinvested with energy within the social drama, going beyond the cognitive and the moral to the existential domain where it becomes "clothed with allusiveness, implications and metaphor."28 By social drama Turner means a period in which conflicting groups and people attempt to establish their own paradigms or to reconfigure extant paradigms. An example of such an enterprise is Anzaldúa's foregrounding of the mestiza as a type of new consciousness/new paradigm for the social drama of the struggle for a new Borderlands.

The three best known paradigms for woman in Mexican culture are: (1) the Virgin of Guadalupe; (2) Malinche, the noble Aztec woman, Malintzin Tenepal, who served the Spanish conqueror Cortez as mistress, translator, advisor, and the bearer of his child - becoming thereby the mother of a mestizo race; and (3) la Llorona, the weeping mother who seeks her lost children. A fourth is Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the seventeenth century Spanish-born Mexican nun who became renowned for her intellect and exquisite poetry. A fifth is Frida Kahlo, model of the suffering-sexual-woman-as-powerful-creator.

The performance referenced all of these paradigms, either implicitly or explicitly (and, in doing so, reached both backward and forward across the historical record, from the Aztec empire of Malinche's provenance to the future paradise of Anzaldúa's mestiza.) I have already mentioned the empty mandala of the Virgin of Guadalupe, its emptiness signifying uncertainty as to how that space should be filled, its prominent centrality between the kitchen and the media/conflict room indicating its significance - and the significance of this issue - within the performance. Guadalupe is, of course, a symbol of sexual purity, sublime transcendence, forgiveness, and redemption. But she is also a prototype of the new mestiza, a border type, the product of two cultures: the Aztec which featured her as the good creator-mother, Tonantzin, and the Spanish/Christian, which desexed her and made her into a version of the Virgin Mary. She is thus, as Anzaldúa points out

a synthesis of the old world and the
new, of the religion and culture of
the two races in our psyche, the
conquerors and the conquered . . .
She mediates between the Spanish and
the Indian cultures and between
Chicanos and the white world. She .
. . is the symbol of ethnic identity
and of the tolerance for ambiguity
that . . . people who cross cultures
. . . possess.29

Her symbol is thus pregnant with ambiguity, for, like the mestiza, she "continually walk[s] out of one culture and into another."30

The installation also referenced Guadalupe's significance to Mexico's indigenous Indian population. Against a white wall in a vestibule through which visitors entered to access the performance were several representations of Guadalupe holding a machine gun. In this guise she represented the rebellion and hope of an oppressed people and the capacity of women to come forward as warriors. In short, Guadalupe's resonances have been and remain mutable, but always charged with positivity.

The Malinche paradigm has been far more problematic. In Mexican mythology, Malinche/Malintzin has become an archetype of betrayal, an historical Eve in whom sexuality and treason are mutual inflections. In addition to her Aztec name, she has, over the course of history, acquired others that connote the contempt with which Mexican/Chicano culture regards her. Thus she is known also as La Chingada, the one who is fucked;31 La Vendida, slang for "sell-out" because she "sold" her people to the white race; and La Lengua, a word that includes the meanings "tongue," "language," and "translator" or mediator.32 Mostly, however, she is known as La Malinche, a term that converts her proper name into a generic signifier of betrayal.

Guadalupe and Malintzin: virgin and whore. They are functions of one another, and their opposing yet complementary paradigms polarize the lives of Mexicanas and Chicanas. Together they constitute what anthropologist Pierre Maranda has called "semantic charters: . . . culture specific networks that we internalize as we undergo the process of socialization." He adds that certain charters or signifying systems "have an inertia and momentum of their own" and includes within this category "the conception of sex roles."33 From the evidence and observations of Chicano and Mexican scholars, Malintzin and Guadalupe belong within this class.34 For example, as Norma Alarcón notes:

. . . the myth of Malintzin . . .
seeps into our . . . consciousness
in the cradle through . . . [male]
eyes as well as our mothers', who
are entrusted with the transmission
of culture. . . . All we see is
hatred of women. We must hate her
too since love seems only possible
through extreme virtue whose
definition is at best slippery. . .
he pervasiveness of the myth is
unfathomable, often permeating and
suffusing our very being without
conscious awareness.35

Contemporary Chicanas bristle at this cultural legacy and at their inscription within the limited fields of puta or virgen. The social drama of feminist struggle has led women to seek alternative paradigms and to inscribe La Malinche differently, for example, as a woman of courage who sought to save her people from a cruel and bloodthirsty Aztec ruler.36 One of the most ingenious re-readings is by Cherrie Moraga in her article: "From a Long Line of Vendidas: Chicanas and Feminism."37 Here Moraga, in a brilliant move, recuperates the terms of aspersion, reinscribing them with positive value. Thus she names the defiant woman who takes control of her own sexual destiny "una Malinchista"38 and herself a "Vendida:" one who deliberately refuses to buy into the dominant heterosexist paternalism of her culture, arguing that "To be critical of one's culture is not to betray that culture;"39 indeed, that to refuse to examine one's own cultural weaknesses "is, in the most profound sense, an act of betrayal."40 She thereby transforms a term of derogation into a badge of honor and opens up an avenue whereby the feminist Chicana/Mexicana might derive positive value from identification with Malinche.

This approach was taken further by Anzaldúa, who, again and again in her manifesto for the new mestiza repeats the refrain: "Not me sold out my people but they me," and who reconfigures Malinche as the betrayed - "the raped mother whom we have abandoned"41 - rather then the betrayer. Anzaldúa, like a number of other writers,42 views Malinche as a "mediator," a border crosser between cultures, a woman possessed of a rare aptitude to live in two worlds, a woman who operated from the edge of the cultures she inhabited but whose place in the cultural consciousness of Mexico became central.

the woman who weeps for and seeks her lost children, is often viewed as a conflation of the first two paradigms, but tends to be less sharply delineated. In Border Boda she was referenced with each mention of a woman weeping; for example, the tía's and grandmother's mother who wept when the tía's Anglo husband, John, took her away to "Gringolandia." In contrast to her own mother's behavior, the grandmother did not weep at her granddaughter's impending departure for Chicago. Instead, she invoked, as a kind of farewell blessing, Anzaldúa's poem, "Don't Give In, Chicanita. reminding her that

Strong women reared you:
my sister, your mom, my mother and

Thus, instead of loss and tears, she stressed the Mexican woman's capacity for strength, endurance, and intra-gender support.

Sor Juana, an immensely complex character in Mexican culture, was suggested in the persona of the tía. Sor Juana's many attributes included poetry, celibacy, and, in the last years of her life, silence - all characteristics which defined the tía.43 For example, the tía's only vocalizations were in song, or poetry. Additionally, while she was once married and "had a lot of boyfriends," her status in the performance was that of "old maid" - which is one of the several meanings of "tía." The association of Sor Juana with tía is strengthened by the fact that the Comadre who played tía (Rocio Weiss) identified strongly with Sor Juana and had previously assumed her persona in a performance.

Tía's silence invites interpretation. My reading is that it functioned as an abjuration of the La Lengua aspect of Malinche - her capacity to function as a "tongue" or "translator" within different language systems. It was this "gift" that enabled Malinche to translate for Cortez, a service which traditional Mexican culture regards as her first act of betrayal. Of course choosing silence as a way of avoiding the risk of being inscribed as La Lengua is hardly a viable strategy to liberate women from codes that diminish and undermine, for while it certainly precludes the possibility of the accusation of betrayal, it equally precludes the possibility of producing oneself through discourse, of becoming a "speaking subject" (to borrow Kristeva's term),44 capable of recasting the relationship of the subject to tradition and of inflecting language with her own desire. A more fruitful strategy is that adopted by Moraga and Anzaldúa who do not repress their desire but channel it productively, expropriating and forcing it to submit to their own liberatory agendas.

Fourthly, tía's silence lends itself to interpretation within the framework of Deleuze and Guattari's theories of deterritorialization. These authors note that language

always implies a
deterritorialization of the mouth,
the tongue, and the teeth. The
mouth, tongue, and teeth find their
primitive territoriality in food. In
giving themselves over to the
articulation of sounds, the mouth,
tongue and teeth deterritorialize.
Thus, there is a certain disjunction
between eating and speaking. . . .45

The tía's removal from her native country - her deterritorialization - left her bereft of speech. She regrounded herself by preparing food, thereby connecting herself more closely to the body, to primary processes, and to the primitive territoriality of the mouth.

Unquestionably the most complex and allusive character in the performance, the tía can be construed as a type of mestiza, for she traversed several worlds: Mexican, Anglo, and ancestral Indian. According to Grandmother, she possessed "Indian woman skills," which she used to help Grandmother conceive a child when the latter despaired of doing so, leading Grandmother into the generatively-charged, serpent-filled center of the earth that is part of Indian lore. Additionally, according to Grandmother, "Tía has all kinds of powers. She can see auras and futures, and she has a gift - the capacity to talk to people on the other side - people who are dead." She also, according to Grandmother, "loves to go to Las Vegas." Alternately capable of entering the space of ancestral spirits and the simulacral hyperspaces of Las Vegas, she belongs both to the vieja raza that modern industrialization has destroyed and to the postmodern, thus manifesting that "tolerance for ambiguity" that Anzaldúa highlighted as the mestiza's.

Her vocalizations in song point to a central problematic at the core of Border Boda:, for the songs she sang were all highly traditional and therefore reflective of normative values in the culture. For example, one of the songs was the well-known La Adelita, a border ballad or corrido. The corrido is a male-dominated genre developed to extol the exploits of male heroes and in which women, if they are present at all, are relegated to secondary roles.46 While La Adelita does represent a Mexican woman in an unusual role - that of soldadara or fighter in the Revolution of 1910 - her power as a protagonist is neutralized by presenting her as the love-sick object of a soldier's affections. This stratagem - turning the soldadera into a love object - was commonly used by corridistas who, following the conventions of their genre to base lyrics on historical reality, had to acknowledge women fighters, but sought to render them less threatening by positioning them in traditional heterosexual relationships. There was a certain contradiction in having the celibate and independent tía sing a love song which glorifies a male protagonist, albeit indirectly.

Reference to male protagonists is, however, almost unavoidable in Mexican culture. The problem for Mexican and Mexican-descended women, as Jean Franco has so eloquently noted is "whether a 'heroine' is possible at all within the terms of the epic or master narratives of the nation."47 Franco points out that in Mexican literature, even when it is produced by women writers, "Women do not enter history - only romance"48 and that "even their oral culture is penetrated by myths of submission."49 Thus even the matriarchal folk art form of storytelling is unable (if it aims at verisimilitude rather than fable) to avoid inscribing women in the social relationships of the hegemonic culture. As Franco points out: "Women's attempts to plot themselves as protagonists in the national [drama] becomes a recognition of the fact that they are not in the plot at all but definitely somewhere else."50

This has been the primary problematic for the establishment of a feminist Chicana theater, for traditional Chicano theater, like traditional Latino culture, is inherently sexist, positioning women as submissive, subordinate, and marginal to historical events. As Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano points out:

until the exploration of other
alternatives in the eighties . . .
[m] ost texts constructed a male
subject through notions of class,
'racial,' and cultural identity that
reinscribed tacit cultural
definitions of masculinity and
femininity within the heterosexual
structure of the family.51

In surveying Chicano theater over a twenty year period, from its beginnings in 1965 to the moment of her writing in 1986, Yarbro-Bejarano maps an art form that has been profoundly marked by patriarchy. The impact of patriarchy has been so pervasive that even the establishment (in 1978) of a women's caucus within the Chicano theater movement proved unable to re-align the traditional asymmetry of male/female roles. Because male/female roles in the larger culture are asymmetrical, Border Boda could not but inscribe them so. Its significant contribution within the field of Chicana theater is that it focused on reformulating Mexican/Chicano female paradigms as strong, resourceful, enduring, active, and exemplary of the new utopic paradigm - the mestiza. Additionally, the final scenes of the drama opened up women's range of sexual choices to include lesbianism and bisexuality.

For example, in the penultimate scene one of the journalists became a new hybrid character - a wrestler-bride - and in this guise crossed from the media room into the loving ambiance of the kitchen. There she read a love poem to one of her Comadres, expressing deep longing for a bridging of cultural difference, for primal connection, and for a woman. Additionally, at one point she and the other journalist (now dressed as a man) enacted a mock wedding as a send-up of the sanctified marriage ceremony. In other words, the performance, while ostensibly about a heterosexual marriage, also questioned this institution and opened up other sexual possibilities for women.

The fifth female paradigm adduced by the performance was Frida Kahlo. The bright, colorful kitchen was a reference to Kahlo's home. But not merely her home, but Frida herself was represented in this drama. In the final scene, the young bride dressed in her wedding finery once again placed herself within the frame of the mandala and there removed her gown to reveal a shift and bodice, painted to resemble the corset in which Kahlo had represented her pain-wrought body (fig. 4). The message was clear: marriage - inscription within the patriarchal system - both celebrates and wounds women. Thus, to reiterate, while the framework of the social contract which the plot enacted was heterosexual, its undercurrent or, in this case, undergarment, drew attention to the constriction and pain that society's heterosexual contract also imposes. The bride's revelation of underlying pain was an important qualifier to a plot which, on the surface, seemed merely to restage the ancient narrative of betrayal and colonial subordination: a young Chicana couples with a white man against the wishes of her family, who regard her impending union as a betrayal analogous to Malinche's with her colonizer. The reference to Kahlo, who had women lovers, broadened the limited hetero plot to include lesbianism and bisexuality, while the Kahlo-like painted undergarment signified another path for women - Art - the capacity to create new myths and new paradigms and thereby transcend demeaning subalternity.

Kahlo, too, can be viewed as a type of the new mestiza, for she also traversed many borders. Indeed, her life was an exemplary instance of the characteristics that Anzaldúa identified as belonging to the new mestiza:

Cradled in one culture, sandwiched
between two cultures, straddling all
three cultures and their value
systems . . . undergo[ing] a
struggle of flesh, a struggle of
borders, an inner war.52

These characteristics apply equally, of course, to the young bride, and it was in her that the final hopes of the performance were vested. Addressing herself to the young woman who stood within the frame of the empty mandala in the interzone between the U.S. and Mexico, Grandmother intoned lines from Anzaldúa's poem, "Don't Give In, Chicanita," the poem with which Anzaldúa closed her manifesto for the new mestiza. The final note of the performance was, therefore, one of hope and promise for the new paradigm of the new mestiza in the new Borderlands.

Deservedly, the production met with an enthusiastic reception,53 and soon thereafter the Comadres were invited to transport it (in December 1990) to the Bridge Center for Contemporary Art in El Paso, Texas, and thence to additional Texas towns. This opportunity elicited profoundly mixed reactions from the participants: pleasure at their newfound success coupled with mounting anxiety at having to continue to work in a situation that had become heavily inflected with internal dissension. By all external appearances, the restaging in El Paso was a success, but the internal conflict had by then become untenable. The most painful issues included resentments about leadership, lesbian desire for women in the group, and professional rivalry, for some of the women, strengthened by their success within the group, had begun to strike out on their own and attain individual success - which other members regarded as opportunistic and contrary to the group's original ethic of collective artmaking.

By 1991, members had become radically polarized and alliances and enmities consolidated. They continued to receive invitations to do shows but were unable to act on them. That September, after several acrimonious meetings, a meeting was called to decide the group's fate: they agreed that the collective had run its course, and they declared Las Comadres officially over.

They had one brief resurgence. In 1993 San Diego's Museum of Contemporary Art and the Centro Cultural de la Raza invited Las Comadres to participate in a major exhibition on the border, to be called La Frontera. For this they reinstalled a small section of La Vecindad - the reading room or library which, in the original production, had offered viewers a sampling of the texts that the Comadres had read when they had first constituted themselves as a study group. For La Frontera they amplified the props that had appeared in the original reading room. Thus, in addition to a reading table, books and chairs, they included the sculpture of the mandala with its empty central space usually occupied by the Virgin of Guadalupe. On either side of the empty mandala they made a symmetrical arrangement of a road sign familiar to southern Californians: in stark black silhouette against an orange ground, a family flees, haunted by the specter of death . They are undocumented workers, [Figure 5 The Reading Room, La Fontera] hazarding their lives as they pursue the American Dream and flee their native poverty. From the logic of the installation, they appear to run toward the empty mandala. In Spanish and in English, the caption above each image reads: Cuidado/Caution. The image was powerful and poignant, but it said nothing of the mestiza, nor of the Comadres' struggle to claim and honor paradigmatic women in Mexican/Chicano culture. It struck me as a sad swan song to a valiant (but perhaps always doomed) effort. While the Comadres had successfully performed their beliefs, they were unable to live them. I thought about the lines inscribed on the "book of conflict" in the conflict/media room: Todo es verdad, todo es mentira/All is truth, all is lies. And then I turned again to Trinh Minh-ha's reflections on story- and truth-telling and again read her poetic words:

Tale, told, to be told. The
to-and-fro movement between
advancement and regression
necessarily leads to a situation
where every step taken is at once
the first (a step back) and the last
step (a step forward) - the only
step, in a precise circumstance, at
a precise moment of (one's) history.
In this context, a work-in-progress
. . . is not a work whose step
precedes other steps in a trajectory
that leads to the final work. It is
not a work awaiting a better, more
perfect stage of realization.
Inevitably, a work is always a form
of tangible closure. But closures
need not close off; they can be
doors opening onto other closures
and functioning as ongoing passages
to an elsewhere . . . The closure
ere, however, is a way of letting
the work go rather than of sealing
it off. Thus, every work
materialized can be said to be a

Although they have officially disbanded and their members are now dispersed, Las Comadres is, in many ways, still a work-in-progress. Their experience together had a profound impact on all the women, and while many had spoken to me of their bitterness and anger toward the group, they were disturbed when, in my first draft of this paper I wrote (and they read) of that bitterness. One woman, seeking to revise my impression, said:

You caught us in a bad moment when
we still had anger. Comadres was
really a positive experience. There
were moments when people really
learned something and things really
orked. We were really able to
achieve things.

And so they were. And so they do, for they have all gone on - as artists, activists, and educators - to produce work inflected by their experience in Las Comadres, and each woman, in her own way, carries within her the utopic project of the new mestiza.

Tale, told, to be told . . . Are you truthful? Was I? I am acutely aware that what I wrote here is an interpretation and that mine may differ from those of the women who lived this drama, for there is always a slippage between events and the act of describing them. What I attempted was to make this narrative "the site of interrelations between giver and receiver"55 in which the Comadres and I are both givers and receivers. I received the gift of their experiences and, in turn, offer them my interpretation. Like theirs, my tale has no closure; indeed, cannot have closure. I do, however, offer it to the women of Las Comadres as an "ongoing passage to an elsewhere." It functioned thus for me.



I would like to thank Janet Brody Esser for her thoughtful reading, constructive criticism, and recommendations of bibliographical material. I am also grateful to those Comadres who read my first draft and gave me feedback. Illustrations were graciously provided by Lynn Susholtz. Copyright ©1998

1. The Comadres included the following women:

Kirsten Aaboe, Yareli Arizmendi, Carmela Castrejón, Frances Charteris, Magali Damas, Eloise De Leon, Maria Ereña, Laura Esparza, Madeleine Grynsztejn, Emily Hicks, Berta Jottar, Maria Kristina, Aida Mancillas, Anna O'Cain, Graciela Ovejero, Lynn Susholtz, Ruth Wallen, Margie Waller, Rocio Weiss, Cindy Zimmerman.

2. The Centro Cultural de la Raza is a cultural center, established in 1971, founded to support the expressions of those peoples who are indigenous to the San Diego/Tijuana region. It is predicated on the principle of cultural self-determination.

3. They were invited to perform at Installation Gallery in San Diego and at exhibition spaces in Texas cities.

4. This paper is part of a larger project in which I examine representations of the border by artists, art collectives, and art institutions in the San Diego/Tijuana border region.

5. Jean Franco, Plotting Women: Gender and Representation in Mexico (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989).

6. Attitudes among the women varied as to willingness/unwillingness to have quotes attributed to them. I have honored these attitudes with the result that some quotes have attributions, while others remain anonymous. This statement was made by Graciela Ovejero.

7. Reproduced in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, edited by Russell Ferguson, Martha Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Cornel West (New York: MIT Press, 1990).

8. Ibid., 327.

9. The most prominent and public spokesperson for these ideas was/is Guillermo Gómez-Peña whose writings have been anthologized in two volumes: Warrior for Gringroistroika: Essays, Performance texts, and Poetry (St. Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 1993) and The New World Border: Prophecies, Poems, and Loqueras for the End of the Century (San Francisco: City Lights, 1996). Since the mid-1980s "the border" has become a significant trope in postmodern theory and cultural production.

10. Eberhardt resigned in 1985, Berman in 1987. Two women joined BAW/TAF in 1987: Emily Hicks, a critic, theorist, and professor of literature at San Diego State University, and Berta Jottar, a Mexican video artist. Hicks's connection to the group ómz-Pñ, Jottar's was to Schnorr. In the fall of 1988 Chicano activist and educator Rocio Weiss joined.

11. In terms of chronology, this period lasted approximately one year after their formation.

12. It was even suggested by one member who wished to draw a distinction between Latina and non-Latina members, that the group be called Gringas y Comadres.

13. "Border Boda or Divorce Fronterizo," pp. 69, 70, Negotiating Performance: Gender, Sexuality, and Theatricality in Latin/o America, Diana Taylor and Juan Villegas, eds. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1994). In addition to interviews with former Comadres, I have drawn from Waller's thoughtful insights in this article. Waller's reference to an "affinity" group comes from her reading of Donna Harraway on "cyborg subjectivity." Her reference to the "'nice nice' phase of multicultural feminist interaction" is from bell hooks, "Third World Diva Girls." While Waller and I both write about Las Comadres our approaches are very different. She writes as a former member of the collective, very much a participant in its activities and dramas; in contrast, I have come after these events, an outsider, attempting to understand and situate them within a particular cultural framework.

14. The designation "Anglo" is problematic and several of the white women would reject it, for their backgrounds are Eastern European rather than British.

15. These citations are from Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderland/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987), 77, 78.

16. Hedgecock, after an extended series of appeals, was eventually successful in getting the sentence repealed.

17. These phrases are from Waller, "Border Boda or Divorce Fronterizo?" 73.

18. The terms of this argument are from Iris Marion Young, "The Ideal of Community and the Politics of Difference," Feminism/Postmodernism, ed. Linda J. Nicholson (New York: Routledge, 1990).

19. Chantal Mouffe, "For a Politics of Nomadic Identity," in Travellers Tales: Narratives of Home and Displacement (London: Routledge, 1994), 107.

20. See Maria Lugones with Pat Alake Rosezelle, "Sisterhood and Friendship," in Feminism and Community, eds. Penny Weiss and Marilyn Friedman (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995). The authors argue that "women of color have an epistemic advantage, they have access to knowledge that white/Anglo women lack" in that they "understand the subtleties of racism in ways that many white/Anglo women may not." 143.

21. See Anzaldúa, 78, 79.

22. "Multicultural Strategies for Aesthetic Revolution," New Feminist Criticism; Art, Identity, Action, ed. Joanna Frueh, Cassandra L. Langer, and Arlene Raven (New York: Icon, 1991), 187.

23. See Spivak, "Explanation and Culture: Marginalia," in Out There, 377.

24. Ibid.

25. The Comadre who made the book identified the line as Ruben Dario's. She also told me that she chose the quotation to express her own feelings of unhappiness with the conflict that was by then rampant in the group.

26. Deleuze and Guattari develop the idea of a "minor literature" in Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, trans. Dana Polan (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984). The chapter, "What is a Minor Literature?" is reproduced in Out There. The quotation is from Out There, 60.

27. Ibid., 59.

28. Turner, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: symbolic action in human society (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), 154. I encountered this discussion in Sandra Messinger Cypess' fascinating book, La Malinche in Mexican Literature: From History to Myth (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991), 7.

29. Anzaldúa, 30.

30. Ibid., 77.

31. For the best known exposition of the root of this word and its valence in Mexican culture, see Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico, trans. Lysander Kemp (New York: Grove Press, 1961), Chapter IV, "The Sons of La Malinche," 65-88.

32. Her persona as La Lengua has been expounded on and developed by Carlos Fuentes in his Todos los gatos son pardos (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1984), cited by Norma Alarcón, "Traddutora, Traditora: A Paradigmatic Figure of Chicana Feminism," in Scattered Hegemonies; Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices, ed. Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan (Minneapolis: Minnesota Press, 1994). See also the article by Alarcón for a discussion of Fuentes's treatment.

33. Pierre Maranda, "The Dialectic of Metaphor: An Anthropological Essay on Hermeneutics," in The Reader in the Text: Essays on Audience and Interpretation, ed. Susan R. Suleiman and Inge Crosman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 184-5. I take this reference from Norma Alarcón, "Traddutoria, Traditora: A Paradigmatic Figure of Chicana Feminism," 130 n. 4.

34. Additionally, Alarcón cites the findings of theologician Rene Girard, who notes that the "religiously rooted community is both attracted and repelled by its own origins. It feels the constant need to reexperience them, albeit in veiled and transfigured form." Alarcón, 112. The quote is taken from Girard, Violence and the Sacred, translated by Patrick Gregory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1977), 99.

35. Norma Alarcón, "Chicana's Feminist Literature; A Re-Vision Through Malintzin/or Malintzin: Putting Flesh Back on the Object," 183, 184 in This Bridge Called by Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, ed. Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa (Watertown: Persephone Press, 1981).

36. See, for example, Adelaida R. Del Castillo, "Malintzin Tenepal: A Preliminary Look into a New Perspective," Essays on La Mujer, Part I, ed. Rosaura Sanchex, Anthology No. 1, Chicano Studies Center Publications (Los Angeles, Unviersity of California, 1977), 124-49.

37. Reproduced in Feminist Studies/Critical Studies, ed. Teresa de Lauretis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986).

38. Ibid., 184.

39. Ibid., 180.

40. Ibid., 182.

41. Anzaldúa, 30.

42. For example, Frances Karttunen, Between Worlds: Interpreters, Guides, and Survivors (New Jersey: Rutgers, 1994)

43. The association of tia with Sor Juana was particularly strong for those who knew the Comadre, Rocio Weiss, who played tia, for Rocio identified with Sor Juana and had previously played the part of Sor Juana in a performance.

44. See Julia Kristeva, Desire in Language; A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art, ed. by Leon S. Roudiez, trans, by Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine, and Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia, 1980).

45. "What is a Minor Literature," 62.

46. See Maria Herrera-Sobek, The Mexican Corrido: A Feminist Analysis (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1990), and Ramon Saldivar, Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990) where the author includes a chapter on the corridos as the basis of Chicano literature.

47. Franco, Plotting Women, 132.

48. Ibid., 138.

49. Ibid., 144.

50. Ibid., 145. Franco uses the word "novel" where I have taken the liberty of inserting "drama," but the principle remains intact.

51. "The Female Subject in Chicano Theater: Sexuality, 'Race,' and Class," in Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre, ed. Sue-Ellen Case (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), 133.

52. Anzaldúa, 78.

53. It was reviewed in the San Diego Tribune by Ann Jarmusch on November 14, 1990, in the Los Angeles Times by Leah Ollman, November 7, 1990, and in High Performance by Judith Christensen, Number 53, Spring 1991.

54. Trinh, "Cotton and Iron," 329.

55. Ibid., 335.