According to cultural critic Stuart Cosgrove (The Zoot-Suit and Style Warfare) "the zoot-suit is more than an exaggerated costume, more than a sartorial statement, it is the bearer of a complex and contradictory history." The extravagant proportions of the zoot suit made it an unmistakable symbol of rebellion for men who felt marginalized by mainstream culture.
Watch the Pachuo Boogie video to see some visual emblems of the style, set to the kind of music that most people have never heard--or heard of.
In this section, Anzaldúa describes the influences of music in her life, especially the form called Norteño (also known as conjunto), and the folk ballads known as corridos. Allmusic offers informative overviews of both Norteño and corridos, along with many audio examples of each.
Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) was a Mexican American farm worker who became a labor leader and widely admired civil rights activist. He co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). The UFW website offers a complete biography of Chavez.
La Raza Unida was a political party formed in Texas in 1970, which rapidly spread to other states. Its first national convention was held in El Paso, Texas, in 1972; about half of its 1500 participants were women. Although the formal party organization did not last long, the movement was very influential. Read the whole story in the Handbook of Texas Online.
Mosaic (designs created with small pieces) was frequently used in Mesoamerican art. This skull, from the collection of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico, is covered in a mosaic of turqoise, coral, and other materials.
Painting on cave walls is perhaps the earliest form of human art, and examples of cave art in Europe date back more than 30,00 years. This example (from the Rio Pinturas in Argentina) features typical imagery, such as stylized animal forms and outlines of the human hand.
A later form of "invoked" art, the totem pole, flourished among the indigenous peoples of the Northwest in the 19th century. Totem poles were created for a wide variety of communal purposes--to celebrate, commemorate, and show status. European newcomers were fascinated by the monumental native art, as shown in this post card.
For more about ethno-poetics--including a fascinating variety of examples--visit Ubuweb, a site curated by Jerome Rothenberg. Rothenberg's poetry anthology Technicians of the Sacred is a key text in the field. Quite a bit of the anthology is available for viewing online at Googlebooks.
The serpent-skirted goddess Coatlicue has been a recurring character throughout Borderlands, symbolizing the difficulty and even danger of the creative process. This online shrine to Coatlicue illustrates the continuing relevance of this archetypal figure. (On the website, move the mouse over the different images to see the video change.)
According to an informative article on Home Altars in the Handbook of Texas Online, "The Mexican-American 'altarista' tradition . . . is linked to the history of altar-making by women, which is evident in the archeological record of pre-Columbian Mexico, Spain, and the Mediterranean." This photo from 1939 (taken near San Antonio, Texas, by documentary photographer Russell Lee) illustrates the practice in a simple home.
Anzaldúa considered the making of altars a vital part of her spiritual and creative practice. Many of the objects--such as figurines, masks, rattles, and candles--that she used in these altars are contained in the Gloria Anzaldua Altares Collection.