John Edgar Wideman

Topics: White people, Race and Ethnicity, Louise Pratt Pages: 4 (1284 words) Published: October 20, 2013

14 Oct 2013
Wideman And Pratt
In John Edgar Wideman’s article “Our Time” he describes several situations that ultimately lead to the downfall and imprisonment of his brother Robby. Wideman tells stories of several things that happened to his brother while he was growing up that could have helped contribute to his drug use and crime. In her essay “Arts of the Contact Zone”, Mary Louise Pratt tells of a similar situation. Pratt, who is a teacher and cultural historian, tells the story of Guaman Poma and his letter to King Phillip III. Poma, in his letter, tells the king his criticisms of the Spanish conquest in South America. Pratt labels Poma’s letter an autoethnographic text. Which is a text “in which people undertake to describe themselves in ways that engage with representations others have made of them”(487). What Pratt means by her description is that Poma is describing himself and his people to the king, with the representations that the conquerors gave them. Poma tells the king the entire story, how the conquerors came in and forced Poma and his people to adapt to their ways, sometimes inadvertently, and sometimes not. In addition to autoethnography, Pratt also describes Pomas letter with the word transculturation. Pratt describes transculturation as “processes whereby members of subordinated or marginal groups select and invent from materials transmitted by a dominant or metropolitan culture”(491). Basically what transculturation means is a lower level group of people assimilating the ways of a higher level group of people, sometimes to try and be more like the higher ups, and sometimes because it is forced upon the lower level. Pratt wants readers to see texts this way because it makes the reader look for the deeper meaning behind the text. It makes the readers think deeper about peoples actions and ask themselves, Is this person the way he is because of the effect of someone else, or is he the way he is because that is the person he wants to be?...
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