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Vital Voices to focus on writings of Chicana scholar

June 13, 2012

The writings of the late Chicana scholar Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa will be the focus of Vital Voices, an evening of discussion, performance and reading, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., June 21, at the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center, 147 E. Adams, Phoenix.

Vital Voices is a partnership between Arizona State University’s Project Humanities, Performance in the Borderlands, and the community organization Savvy Pen Productions.

The program’s purpose is to bring together individuals and communities to “talk, listen, and connect” through literature, language and performance in cultural spaces around the Valley.

Anzaldúa was born and grew up on the Mexican-Texas border and was a scholar of Chicano cultural theory, feminist theory and queer theory. She loosely based her most well-known book, “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza,” on her life in the border area, incorporating her lifelong feelings of social and cultural marginalization into that and her other works.

She edited or co-edited such publications as “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color,” “Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color” and “This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation.”

Her works weave English and Spanish together as one language, an idea stemming from her theory of "borderlands" identity.

Anzaldúa also is noted for her reported out-of-body spiritual events involving narcotics, such as a night when she mixed alcohol and “percada” and, she said, her soul left her body. In her later writings, she developed the concepts of spiritual activism and “nepantleras” to describe the ways contemporary social actors can combine spirituality with politics to enact revolutionary change.

Performance in the Borderlands is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts’ School of Theater and Film. Project Humanities is a President’s Initiative based in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development under the direction of associate vice president Neal Lester.

Following the June event, the next Vital Voices will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m., July 19, at Sunshine’s Motor City Café, 7425 S Harl Ave., Tempe. The Vital Voices event series runs the third Thursday of every month.

Vital Voices’ format includes a facilitator who is connected with the local arts, music and performance scene; one musician and one performer; locally owned or culturally significant venues; and local caterers who utilize local produce.

For more information, contact Patrick D. Reid, project assistant, Project Humanities, at 480-727-7030 or