archetype
Anzaldúa uses the term "archetype" to mean an image or idea that has an innate psychological importance. Archetypes may have many dimensions of meaning and are often found in mythic narratives.
auto-historia
Anzaldúa's term for a "self-narrative." Although it is something like a memoir, it is created in the space of hybridity, and it demonstrates mestiza consciousness.
Aztlán
Aztlán is the name used to describe the mythic home of the Nahuata peoples, a cultural group in Mesoamerica that included the Aztecs. The location of Aztlán is unknown, but some groups believe it covered much of what is now the American Southwest.
border
Anzaldúa uses the term “border” to mean any kind of dividing line that exists or is created. Borders can be political, geographic, psychological, sexual, spiritual, racial, cultural, linguistic, or ideological.
border consciousness
Anzaldúa describes “border consciousness” as a special kind of awareness experienced by border dwellers. It is a sensitivity to deeper realities. She also calls this kind of consciousness la facultad.
border dweller
Anzaldúa refers to an inhabitant of a borderland as a “border dweller.” A border dweller might be someone who grows up between two different cultures, or someone who moves between two gender identities.
borderland
For Anzaldúa, a “borderland” is that ambiguous emotional space created by the existence of unnatural boundaries.
Chicana
Anzaldúa uses the term "Chicana" specifically to refer to women who live in the United States but also identify themselves as Mexican. Chicanas often have Indian heritage as well.
Coatlicue
"Coatlicue" is the name of a Mesoamerican goddess who was often associated with creation and with snakes.
Coatlicue state
Anzaldúa created the term "Coatlicue state" to refer to a special period that precedes creative breakthroughs. The term is derived from the name of an an ancient goddess discussed in the book.
code-switching
Anzaldúa uses the term "code-switching" to describe the strategy of shifting from one language or language variant to another.
la facultad
"La facultad" is Anzaldúa's term for the state or habit of consciousness that is aware of deeper realities. She also refers to this kind of awareness as "border consciousness."
mestiza
Anzaldúa uses the term “mestiza” to refer to a woman whose racial identity is mixed. Most often, the mestiza has both Spanish ancestry and Indian heritage.
mestizaje
Anzaldúa uses the term "mestizaje" to mean the concept of hybridity, It also describes the movement of the mestiza consciousness through different spaces.
myth
Anzaldúa uses the term "myth" to refer to archetypal narratives. They are often ancient or often-told stories that contain psychological insights. Anzaldúa never uses the term to refer to false information.
nahual
"Nahual" is the Aztec word for a shaman--a person with special powers. The nahual is often a shape-shifter.
Nahuatl
"Nahuatl" is the language of the Aztecs and other ancient peoples of Mesoamerica.
Shadow-Beast
Anzaldúa uses the term “Shadow-Beast" to refer to an inner sense of self-will. It often takes the form of stubborness or rebelliousness.