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Pitts, Andrea J.. Toward an Aesthetics of Race: Bridging the Writings of Gloria Anzaldúa and José Vasconcelos
2014, Inter-American Journal of Philosophy, 5 (1): 80-100
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Added by: Adriana Clavel-Vázquez
Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between the aesthetic frameworks of José Vasconcelos and Gloria Anzaldúa. Contemporary readers of Anzaldúa have described her work as developing an “aesthetics of the shadow,” wherein the Aztec conception of Nepantilism—i.e. to be “torn between ways”—provides a potential avenue to transform traditional associations between darkness and evil, and lightness and good. On this reading, Anzaldúa offers a revaluation of darkness and shadows to build strategies for resistance and coalitional politics for communities of color in the U.S. To those familiar with the work of Vasconcelos, Anzaldúa’s aesthetics appears to contrast sharply with his conceptions of aesthetic monism and mestizaje. I propose, however, that if we read both authors as supplementing one another’s work, we can see that their theoretical points of contrast and similarity help frame contemporary philosophical discussions of racial perception.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In this paper, Pitts does two things that are relevant for the aims of this blueprint. First, she understands Anzaldúa to be in dialogue with, and as a continuation of, the Latin American philosophical tradition. In this sense, rather than seeing Latinx feminism as emerging simply from an opposition to the Anglo-American intellectual tradition, she sees it as inheriting and furthering a rich Latin American philosophical tradition that, although problematic at times, has plenty to offer to contemporary philosophical thought, and which has been unfortunately ignored for too long. Second, she brings forward the role that aesthetics plays in theorizing about race and mestizo identities in Latin America, and in the constitution of social identities, as well as the centrality of aesthetics in the Latin American philosophical tradition.

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