“What is the contact zone?” Mary Louis Pratt, the author, describes the contact zone as being. “.. term to refer to social spaces where cultures meet clash, and grapple with each other, often in context of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slaver, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today”. (Pg 607) To simply put it’s the meeting of two separate entities and one trying to be the head and the other the tail. The whole idea of the contact zone according to the author based on two things her sons view of the world and a Andean man named Poma de Ayala’s view of his world hundreds of years ago. In modern America there are so many examples such as: minority vs. majority, young vs. old, student vs. teacher, so on and so forth.

The contact zone can be seen in everyday life, in the case of her son or it can be literary, in the case of Poma. Writing in the contact zone has good and bad qualities. Some of the good qualities that come from writing in the contact zone is auto ethnography which is. “.. representations that the so defined others construct in response to or in dialogue with those text” (pg 608). An example if someone writes a stereotype of all smart people calling them nerds and loners, one of the response to that is writing an essay saying there not nerds and loners as they are being portrayed.

Another attribute is tranculturation “transculturation is members of subordinated or marginal groups select and invent from materials transmitted by a dominant or metropolitan culture” (pg 612). It is now commonplace to see on library shelf children’s fables that once depicted only white children, now there are ones of the same story adapted for different cultures. An example Pratt gave was of the Poma de Ayala and the way he retold the story of Adam and Eve to also include some of his culture. Lastly another benefit would be imaginary dialogue, which is basically if you could talk to this person would they say to you or better yet what would you like them to say to you. In the essay the author spoke of Poma de Ayala how he has imaginary dialogue in his letter to the King of Spain and in this dialogue the King is asking him how is men are treating the natives. Imaginary dialogue gives you insight on how the writer views the person who they are imagining.

On the other had there are also negative attributes from writing in the contact zone. The negative basically comes from the readers’ point of view being that the writer is the only person who knows really what they are trying to say. The first one is miscomprehension which is the reader interpreting what the writer wrote in the wrong way. For example the author writes about how the feel about children the reader could perceive from the text that the author may not like children. Poma de Ayala could have been miscomprehended as being evil or malicious being that he wrote about the Spanish in their land, but that is all on who read it not on what he meant. Secondly, there could be incomprehension, which is different from miscomprehension in the simple fact the incomprehension means that the writer is simply not understood.

Lastly, and one of the most important negative attribute is that the writer could have an unread masterpiece. This is greatly illustrated by Pratt in simply telling the story of Poma’s manuscript that never was read or even got to its intended addressee. When you are of a different culture and you write in a contact zone, people may not want to read what you have to say. The message maybe told to deaf ears. In conclusion people live today in a contact zone as they have done for thousands of years.

Not only do people live in a contact zone, but it influences there writing.

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