Arts of the Contact Zone by Mary Louise Pratt

999 Words4 Pages
The “Arts of the Contact Zone”, an article written by Stanford professor Mary Louise Pratt, discusses many different ideas about culture and communication by utilizing what she calls the literate arts. Pratt explains many terms that she believes are beneficial in gaining a further understanding of a literary piece. Key terms such as, contact zone, autoethnography and transculturation are introduced in her essay. She describes contact zones as “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power”(Pratt 487). The contact zone can be summarized as a space where two groups with different beliefs or ideas intermingle. In the essay, Pratt also describes the literate arts that come out of the contact zone. Literary arts are ways of addressing problems in the contact zone and sometimes make an attempt to resolve the issue that is happening or has happened. Two terms heavily discussed in the essay are autoethnography and transculturation. These are only two of the many literate arts that precipitate out of the contact zone. Pratt defines autoethnography as a “text in which people undertake to describe themselves in ways that engage with representations others have made of them”(Pratt 487). The culture often takes on those stereotypes in some form of literary work and presents it to the dominant culture often trying to change their views or perspectives. Autoethnography is often used as an effective method
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