By: Shirley Coenen
In “Light in the Dark/Luz en lo Oscura” Anzaldua’s final life work, she plunges head-on into the transformational potentiality of liminal spaces- for moments like these, when “death and destruction do shock us out of our familiar daily rounds.”
As many students and educators are taking deep sighs of relief and closing their textbooks, I’m looking forward to keep reading, without a seminar or school to hold me accountable. This post is a brief reflection sharing what I’m reading right now and how Anzaldua, as an ancestor, provides so many lessons for these times.
To Anzaldua, these shocks that disrupt our daily life create dissociation and fragmentation of the self and society, tearing through the fabric of “the illusion of consensual reality” of global extractive systems, and giving us the opportunity for “otra forma de ver” – other ways of seeing.
These are the times of nepantla, “a psychological, liminal space between the way things had been and an unknown future.”
It is the role of nepantleras, the stewards of the in-between, to be with the multiple and conflictive worldviews that emerge and swirl together in the chaotic remolinos of crisis when alternative viewpoints abound and compete for the ability to be breathed into reality.
Nepantleras must be with the tensions, find harmony and integration within the storm, and through art and activism, “help us mediate these transitions, help us make the crossings, and guide us through the transformation process.”
They help warn us away from desconocimiento, what we could today call the false solutions of disaster capitalism, and towards conocimiento, a collective awakening that moves us towards compassionate relationship with all living beings, what we could call disaster collectivism.
Through these words, Anzaldua is speaking through time, to this moment of pandemic, to remind us that “we’re connected by invisible fibers to everyone on the planet and that each person’s actions affect the rest of the world.”
These moments of disaster are opportunities for conocimiento. “The healing of our wounds results in transformation, and transformation results in the healing of our wounds.” So let us be that healing in these times.