The issue of a contact zone and a community is different from one another, but they can be used to explain the features of the same group. According to Pratt, communities are viewed as the more dominant perspective to the general public, but she also asserts that there is need to develop an understanding the differences of culture and get the idea of transfiguration through the contact zone. The papers seek to establish what is meant by contact zone and the necessary research that should be conducted by determining what is already known of the topic and what should be researched.
Pratt argues that contact zone is the spaces where cultures come together, clash and grapple with one another, mostly in contexts of highly asymmetrical connection to power like slavery and colonialism as witnessed in various parts of the contemporary world (Pratt 609). She also claimed that the contact zone is a site for cultural and linguistic experience whereby power is contested under a series of struggles. Transculturation research is quite imperative as far as contact zone is concerned. Transculturation, according to Pratt is a term that ethnographers have employed to describe the process in which members of marginalized groups identify and invent from materials relayed by a renowned metropolitan culture. The concept of transculturation was brought forth by a Fernando Ortiz, a sociologist from Cuba who sought to replace acculturation and assimilation concepts used to characterize culture under struggle (Pratt 611). Pratt confirmed that transculturation is a dominant feature of the concept of the contact zone. It should be noted that a contact zone is a place whereby two distinct cultures meet to inform each other, and they may also clash. For instance, a real-life situation of both the contact zone and community would be my dormitory floor in the university. My dormitory here is viewed as a community since everybody on the floor happens to be here for a similar purpose, studying. Everybody on my floor has the same goals and interests. Therefore, we are reasonably connected with my fellow floormate with the existence of common goals.
The idea of the contact zone is people can learn about various social as well as a cultural background that we come from since it helps us to establish the similarities and differences of cultures (Pratt 617). The issue of contact zone could make an individual feel excluded from a group. He or she could fear to enter into a contact zone with other people in the same environment. For instance, on my dormitory floor in the university, some people might feel neglected when their cultures or behaviors are looked down upon. The feature creates an unconducive environment whereby individuals feel uncomfortable when assimilating the cultural life of the community.
It could also be claimed that despite dormitory floor is considered as a community, the issue of the contact zone is deliberated partially to contrast with the ideologies of community that involve much of the thinking about communication, culture, and language that is done in the school (Pratt 621). Ideally, on the dormitory floor, we all come from various types of social groups. Since we are confined in the school solely to study and achieve our interests, some individuals are engaged in partying instead of reading while others seriously study for exams. Therefore, we can say that the phenomenon develops a sense of social contact zone that partially makes our floor to clash in terms of our goals.
Pratt, Mary Louise. Arts of the contact zone. In Ways of Reading An Anthology for Writers. Boston MA, Bedford/St. Martin's 6th ed., 2002. 0312258976. PP. 605-623
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