The idea of a contact zone and a community is distinct from one another, yet they can both be used to define the characteristics of the same group. Mary Louise Pratt believes that communities are often seen as the more dominant viewpoint to the general public but she also argues that we need to develop ways to understand the differences of culture and grasp the idea of transfiguration through the contact zone. A single group should always be viewed from both community and contact zone points of view to gain greater perspective and understanding.
A community is a place where everyone is more equal and is there for the same season. The definition of a community is a group of people living in the same place and sharing common interests, goals and characteristics. This provides very little conflicting behaviors and can be beneficial to groups because communities offer individual support, and acceptance from a group of people. Communities provide a utopian society where the members can feel equal and experience the same things.
Communities provide a sense of fraternity which is the state or feeling of friendship and mutual support within a group, for example my dormitory floor is a community cause as aviation students, we see each other as equals and come together to expand our education in aviation by studying together and making sure we’re all ready for tests that are coming up. On the other hand, a contact zone is a place where two different cultures meet, inform each other and clash. This is explained by Pratt when she discusses Gunman Pomp’s 1200 page letter the “New Chronicle”.
Gunman Pomp was an Andean writer that wrote the “New Chronicle” in a mix of both Spanish and Quiches. He rewrote Christian stories with the Andean people as the center of the religion. Pratt calls this an ethnographers text, which means that the Andean people described themselves with the descriptions that others gave them. Gunman Pomp showed a single topic from both perspectives of the Madden’s and the Spanish to try to give greater understanding and while giving different viewpoints to both the Spanish and Andean people. Ethnographers works are often addressed to both metropolitan audiences and the speaker’s own community’ (Pratt 488). A real life example of both a community and a contact zone would be my college dormitory floor . My dormitory hall is considered a community because everyone on my floor is here for the same reason, aviation. Everyone on my floor has the same environment, goals, interests and we are even trying to learn/grasp the same subject.
There is a feeling of fellowship with my fellow floor mates, we get along fairly well and are linked together through our common interests and passions. Yet, this is what Benedict Anderson calls an “imagined community’. My dormitory is considered an imagined community because even though it can be classified as a community, my dormitory hall is also a contact zone. Even though all of us have common interests and goals, not one person on my floor is alike.
We come from different areas of the country, we have different backgrounds and we even have different morals/values. Having a contact zone can be advantageous topics. The clashing of our different cultures teaches us how others perform certain tasks or view certain topics in life, this broadens our perspective of culture and gives us an opportunity to have an open mind through transfiguration. Communities provide a type of safe haven for social and cultural differences.
Pratt describes a community as a place where “Groups can constitute themselves as a horizontal, homogeneous, sovereign communities with high degrees of trust, shared understandings, temporary protection from legacies of oppression” (Pratt 497). On our dormitory floor we are able to talk “freely’ and feel equal with our peers, we have the same classes so we all have to go through the same things to achieve success. Having people that are your equal gives a greater sense of belonging and understanding so that we can more easily relate to each other. This is what ultimately creates a community type of environment on our dormitory floor.
Even though my floor can be considered a community, Mary Louise Pratt claims that “The idea of the contact zone is intended in part to contrast with ideas of community that underlie much of the thinking about language, communication, and culture that gets done in the academy. ” On my floor, all of us come from all different kinds of social groups. There are some of us that stay in their room and Just study all day while there are the complete opposite that go out and party all night. This rates a social contact zone that in part makes our floor clash in personality.
Learning about the different social and cultural backgrounds that each of us came from is crucial for us to be successful and this kind of learning only takes place in the idea of a contact zone. There are different aspects to my dormitory floor. For example, we function differently from when we have free time, to when we are studying. During our free time, it is more of a social and there would be a coalition of cliques. This is due to our social differences and how we view ourselves in the perspective of the public. The other aspect is our studying time when we’re all studying for our aviation exam or our flight training.
In this type of environment, we are able to put our differences aside to work towards a common goal. When we’re studying together we don’t have to worry about what the public thinks, we Just wanted to learn and improve our understanding of aviation together as a group. This is how my floor can be viewed as both a contact zone and a community. Limitations of the contact zone may be that the people experience the ignorance and occasionally the hostility of others in the group. Without traits of community and the feeling of belonging, it is very easy to see the negatives of a group and take the positives of a group for granted.
A contact zone could make someone feel excluded or maybe too fearful of even entering a contact zone with others. For example, on my floor, people may be ignorant towards certain cultures/behaviors and negatively criticize them. This in turn creates a hostile environment where people don’t feel comfortable embracing their traits and being a part of a community. In conclusion, challenging yourself to see a single point from multiple perspectives ND to be tolerant to diversity is the best way to create a learning environment for a group of people.
Pratt emphasizes that, “Our Job in the Americas course remains to figure out how to make that crossroads the best sit for learning that it can be. We are of view from community to contact zone develops greater understanding, being a part of a community and being aware of an underlying contact zone is ultimately a valuable attribute for a society. Works Cited Pratt, Mary L. “Arts of the Contact Zone. ” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. By David Bartholomew and Tony Petrol’s. Boston, MA: Bedford/SST. Martins, 2011. 483-98. Print.