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In the humanities, contact zones originated in contact language and linguistic analyses.Pratt developed the idea of contact zones into an analytical tool for literary and comparative studies, and it quickly spread to other fields of study.This concept of contact zones has been used to theorize the political and power disparities present in sites—such as texts (Pratt) and classrooms (Lu)—where such influences might not be visible.
Pratt aims to highlight these relations between the colonizer and the colonized “in terms of copresence, interaction, interlocking understandings and practices”.
There often are conflicts of views and ideas; the very concept of existence maybe apprehended differently by the two involved subjects in the “contact zone”.
The inability of the colonizer to comprehend the cultural sentiments or the intentional ignorance for selfish interests, towards the colonized subjects has often given rise to great revolutions and bitter revolts.
To illustrate this idea, one might examine the “colonial encounter” between the British and the Indians.
These contexts are language diversity, history, orality, and power at more targeted and wider-ranging scales of focus.
Mary Louise Pratt famously described contact zones as “social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination—such as colonialism and slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out across the globe today” ( 7).
Compositionists have paved the way for understanding contact zones not just as spaces to observe and describe but also as spaces in which challenging learning and instruction can occur.
In a contact zone, different languages interact through writing, reading, speech, and other expressions because of historical circumstances and with greater and lesser privileges afforded to them on account of these historical circumstances.
“The contact of two races so dissimlar in character, in culture, and institutions, as the English and the Indian, raises the problem of the contact of cultures in its most acute forms” (Spear, 22).
The problem in India was complicated by numerous factors.