The Uprising of Dignity- ZZ Colectivo

On the first of January 1994 – under the motto “Ya Basta!” – “Enough!” – thousands of indigenous men and women occupied seven cities in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. The Zapatistas (named after the revolutionary Emilio Zapata (1879-1919)) fought a two week armed struggle against corruption, racism, and repression. Since then they have used peaceful civilian means to improve the living conditions of the population.

The Zapatista movement in Chiapas, México

The Zapatistas occupied areas owned by large landowners, divided the land between thousands of families and have been building autonomous civil structures ever since. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) rebellion was for land rights, health, education, freedom, democracy, peace, and justice. The Zapatista movement does not seek to take control of the state. Instead, the organization demanded profound democratization of the whole country and a rejection of neoliberal economic policies. The local and national political leaders are still reacting with military force, repression and disinformation campaigns. The EZLN sees its rebellion in a global context, and in 1996 called for the formation of an “International of Hope” in order to fight together with other movements for a solidary society and the preservation of nature.

In 2005, the EZLN launched “The Other Campaign”, the objectives being a new constitution for Mexico and the strengthening of the global resistance to capitalism. In the long term mobilization, independent organizations are to build an extra-parliamentary alliance in order to create an anti-capitalist alternative.

Writing Exercise and Discussion

Pick three of the topics below and discuss:

How the Zapatistas created alternative practices to improve the living conditions and sovereignty of the indigenous people in Chiapas? Which of the approaches and ideas interested you the most and why? Do you think these ideas and models could help marginalized communities in the U.S.?


.fighting for indigenous rights under neoliberalism

*Neoliberalism is characterized by free-market trade, deregulation of financial markets, privatization, individualization, and the shift away from state welfare. It is a policy model that seeks to transfer control of economic factors from the public sector to the private sector. It tends towards deregulated capitalism and away from government spending and public ownership.

.respect for the land and ecological consciousness

.community self-rule structure




.collective work

.women’s rights

.global solidarity network

Entering Into the Serpent- Gloria Anzaldúa

Gloria E. Anzaldúa was a queer Chicana poet, writer, and feminist theorist. Her poems and essays explore the anger and isolation of occupying the margins of culture and collective identity. Anzaldúa has been awarded the Lambda Lesbian Small Book Press Award, a Sappho Award of Distinction, and an NEA Fiction Award, among others. She is the author of several books of poetry, non-fiction, and children’s fiction. Her book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987) and her essay, “La Prieta,” are considered to be groundbreaking works in cultural, feminist, and queer theories. With Cherríe Moraga, Anzaldúa co-edited the landmark anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981).

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New mestiza

“Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity- I am my language. Until I take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself.”

A hybrid cross-genre book that combines poetry, history, socio-cultural analysis, spiritual philosophy, and memoir writing. The subversive style of the book exemplifies its theory.


“The actual physical borderland that I’m dealing with in this book is the Texas-U.S., Southwest/Mexican Border. The psychological borderlands, the sexual borderlands, and spiritual borderlands are not particular to the Southwest. In fact, the Borderlands are physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch, where the space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy.

I am a border woman. I grew up between two cultures, The Mexican (with a heavy Indian influence) and the Anglo (as a member of a colonized people in our own territory). I have been straddling that Tejas-Mexican border, and others, all my life. It’s not a comfortable territory to live in, this place of contradictions. Hatred, anger, and exploitation are the prominent features of this landscape.”

-Gloria Anzaldúa


Part I: Expanding on the main references

Do Internet research and write down some basic information:

Who are la Vírgen de Guadalupe (Group 1), Malinali/Malinche (Group 2) and La llorona/ La jila (Group 3)?


Breaking down the essay

Rotating small group work:

Create a graphic explanation of Anzaldúa’s arguments. As a new member joins, summarize the work done and let that person’s input into the project.

Group 1

Coatlalonpeuh, She Who Has Dominion Over Serpents

.Describe the elements of Chicanx’s folk catholicism according to Anzaldúa?  Expand on how la Virgen de Guadalupe represents a syncretic religious figure that combines indigenous and catholic spiritual views? (49-53)

Group 2

For Waging War Is My Cosmic Duty: The Loss of the Balanced Oppositions and the Change to Male Dominance

.Discuss Anzaldúa’s take on the “balanced opposition between the sexes”? How the Aztecs war culture produced male dominance in all aspects of life? How “la llorona” and Malinali/ Malinche fit into this narrative? (53-56)

Group 3

Sueño con serpientes and The Presences

.What is the symbolism of the serpent? Describe why Anzalduá thinks of her spiritual experiences as an “other mode of consciousness”? Discuss how institutionalized religion distorts inner knowledge? (56-60)


Part II: Writing Exercise

How Anzaldúa defines “la facultad”? How “la facultad”  relates to her indigenous heritage and her Mexican/Chicana womanhood? Why she argues that marginalized people are usually more connected to their “facultad”? Have you experienced the type of awareness she is describing? (See pages 60-1)

On the Syllabus


.Write your preferred name and pronouns.

.What are your primary interests, goals, deep concerns, inquietudes that led you to take this course? Where do you trace the origin of these interests in your individual life, dreams, family, schooling, etc.? What aspects of Latino/a history, culture, and politics do you want to concentrate on? Why do you want to focus on these aspects rather than on others? What else would you like to see included if time allows?