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Arte Público Press, 2022
Arte Público Press, 2022

'Queering the Border': Chicana feminism in the Southwest borderlands

Emma Perez explores explores the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality.

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“You will never know how it feels to have Brown skin and a Mexican name. You will never know what it is like to watch your mother struggle with white words.”

In this collection of prose pieces, author and scholar Emma Pérez explores the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality. A Chicanx queer lesbian “who honors my mother and her plight within patriarchal institutions” that limit women’s choices and opportunities, Pérez writes about issues — including sexual politics and power relations between Anglo and Hispanic men ― that have impacted her Tejano family for generations. 

Born in El Campo, Texas, Emma Pérez has published essays in history and feminist theory as well as The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History. Her novel, Gulf Dreams, was first published in 1996 and was considered to be one of the first Chicana lesbian novels in print. 

With a doctorate in History from the University of California, Perez’s work aims to decolonize the Southwest by uncovering voices from the past that validate multiple experiences. The essays reveal the influence of Gloria Anzaldúa’s scholarship; recount the controversy surrounding artist Alma López’s digital print, Our Lady, in which the Virgin of Guadalupe appears in a provocative bikini; and evaluate interviews with 25 LGBTQ people in the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez area to expose life on the border as a queer person of color. 

The collection also includes short fiction and an epistolary love poem to the first feminist of the Americas, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, or in this case, Sor Juanx. Bringing together the work of a noted Chicanx writer and academic, this volume reinforces the body of work by LGBTQ people of color dealing with racism and sexism, conquest and colonization, power and privilege, all with a particular emphasis on the Southwest borderlands.

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