Presentation Title

Living Without Borders: The Mode of Nepantla in Healing the Colonized Psyche

Faculty Mentor

Georgina Guzmán

Start Date

18-11-2017 9:30 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 9:45 AM

Location

15-1823

Session

Humanities 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

Colonization is a part of American history which often goes undiscussed for the general population today. However, it’s a history not easily forgotten by the colonized. Native peoples have had their cultural memories fragmented and their psyches disoriented through the process of forced assimilation. This and other forms of violence brought upon colonized people results in the people’s collective trauma. How, then, do the colonized people move away from the trauma caused by their colonization and towards a place of healing? This essay argues that one way that healing happens is through the embrace of nepantla, which is a Nahuatl word meaning “in-between space.” It is used by Gloria Anzaldua to develop her theory of process, liminality, and potential change in order to overcome limiting dualities and binaries. By embracing nepantla, one is able to synthesize multiple cultures and transform this third space into an apparatus by which the colonized can free themselves—through the creation of a new world consciousness combining both Native and European knowledge in order to reconfigure the colonized consciousness and ultimately transcend it. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony gives insight into the workings of colonial injury and how cultural violence fosters disaffection within the world, whereas Anzaldua's Borderlands/la Frontera provides the the theory and antidote by which to heal the colonized self.

Summary of research results to be presented

The results which I have found through my research as well as examination of the two books can be broken down in a few ways. First, it is important to understand the protagonist of Ceremony's journey. He is a Native American WWII veteran suffering from PTSD after the war, but I argue that he is truly suffering from PTSD due to his people's colonization and collective trauma, supported by his experiences with the Japanese in WWII in which he is unable to shoot other Japanese soldiers. Then there is the recognition of the failure of western thought as an antidote for his pain, as well as the failure of traditional Native medicinal practices. It is only through the combination of the two that the protagonist is able to reach a place of understanding within his psyche. Finally, I argue that the protagonist essentially becomes a nepantlero, one who facilitates the passages between worlds. This is demonstrated by his ability to synthesize both of his cultures, that of the colonized and colonizer, in order to reconcile the clash of cultures and transcend the damaging ideologies which previously held him prisoner. All of this research is further supported by the theory and text which I will present.

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Nov 18th, 9:30 AM Nov 18th, 9:45 AM

Living Without Borders: The Mode of Nepantla in Healing the Colonized Psyche

15-1823

Colonization is a part of American history which often goes undiscussed for the general population today. However, it’s a history not easily forgotten by the colonized. Native peoples have had their cultural memories fragmented and their psyches disoriented through the process of forced assimilation. This and other forms of violence brought upon colonized people results in the people’s collective trauma. How, then, do the colonized people move away from the trauma caused by their colonization and towards a place of healing? This essay argues that one way that healing happens is through the embrace of nepantla, which is a Nahuatl word meaning “in-between space.” It is used by Gloria Anzaldua to develop her theory of process, liminality, and potential change in order to overcome limiting dualities and binaries. By embracing nepantla, one is able to synthesize multiple cultures and transform this third space into an apparatus by which the colonized can free themselves—through the creation of a new world consciousness combining both Native and European knowledge in order to reconfigure the colonized consciousness and ultimately transcend it. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony gives insight into the workings of colonial injury and how cultural violence fosters disaffection within the world, whereas Anzaldua's Borderlands/la Frontera provides the the theory and antidote by which to heal the colonized self.