Essay #2 Arts of the Contact Zone
During a recent English Literature class we were asked to read and learn about the Arts of the Contact Zone by Mary Louise Pratt. This essay opened up a whole new concept for me. The new term “Contact Zone” appeared and Pratt defined it as “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or the aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today”. The idea of the contact zone is intended to contrast with ideas of community that trigger much of the thinking about language, communication, and culture. To illustrate this idea, one might examine the contrasting cultures between students, and how this impacts the learning in our classrooms as they exist today. According to Pratt, the two distinctive phenomenon of the contact zone are auto ethnographic text and transculturation. One of the characteristics of auto ethnographic text is that it usually involves some extensive collaborating process, between individuals of different social and intellectual classes. Writing classes can offer some significance with the contact zone because of this group effort process. During this process every subject discussed can uncover hidden voices, not to mention every individual member can learn how to form and negotiate an opinion. It is usually in these formats that an outbreak of all the conflicting opinions of group members in different cultural backgrounds, and beliefs arise. In addition, transculturation is defined as “processes where by members of subordinated or marginal groups select and invent from materials transmitted by a dominated culture”. An example would be that they adopt some characteristics of the dominant culture as their own. The text of “The Contact Zone” will inevitably be interpreted differently by people in different positions within the “Contact Zone”. I see culture as a monolingual structure...
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