Pathways: A Journal of Humanistic and Social Inquiry


This paper explores the influence of shamanic tropes and philosophy in Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Shamanic philosophy holds that language can materially transform realities, and Anzaldúa applies this framework in her aesthetics. Anzaldúa uses metaphor to reimagine the border not as a partition but as a wound to be healed; this metaphor seeks to transform the U.S/Mexico relationship and undermine the oppressive discourse of US hegemony and white supremacy. Moreover, the intertextual and bilingual nature of the text performs the healing of the wound by generating a new language of mestizaje. These aesthetic tactics are likened to traditional shamanic practices such as the removal of harmful intrusions and glossolalia. Lastly, shamanic philosophy is evaluated relative to two dominant western philosophies of language, logocentrism, and poststructuralism. The value in revisiting shamanic philosophy lies in its radically affective understanding of language, and its potential to empower the marginalized to participate in the formation of mestiza consciousness and more equitable realities.