Contact Zones are Universal

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In Mary Louise Pratt’s “Arts of the Contact Zone”, Pratt establishes her definition of a contact zone, which is useful in understanding similar situations found in Richard Rodriguez’s “The Achievement of Desire”. In Pratt’s “Arts of the Contact Zone”, the idea of the contact zone is implemented so as to trigger off ideas on how to relate multifaceted concepts, such as language, communication and culture. In “The Achievement of Desire”, an autobiographical text of a young first-generation Mexican boy, Rodriguez feels a constant struggle between his family and education. I find that there are more similarities than differences between the ideas portrayed in these two texts, and I plan on pointing out these similarities and elaborating on how they contribute towards the same idea. By understanding contact zones and how to successfully handle them, one can effectively bridge the gap between cultures, and move towards the common goal of understanding and thereby become more complete.

Throughout Rodriguez’s narration in “The Achievement of Desire”, one cannot help but draw parallels between his story and Pratt’s concept of contact zones: “a social space[s] where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power” (Pratt 501). Rodriguez frequently refers to a struggle; he feels that his parents’ lack of education limits him. Thus his concept of education, as a guiding light, and his parents’ culture “meet, clash and grapple” (Pratt 501) with each other, and Rodriguez feels that his parents’ traditions and culture ultimately overbear and control him. Pratt talks of a similar struggle of Guaman Poma, who wrote a letter to the King of Spain to try to resolve the conflict betwe...

... middle of paper ... examples, from her son’s school tales to Guaman Poma’s argument. Rodriguez’s work is also another example of a contact zone, and he aptly concludes his work by stating how he was “relieved by how easy it was to be home”, after a long separation from his parents and their culture (Rodriguez 562). Thus, a contact zone essentially refers to how one can really learn from different cultures, and therefore how one can become further enriched with knowledge, and thereby become more complete.

Works Cited

Pratt, Mary Louise. “Arts of the Contact Zone.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers.

Bartholomae, David and Petrosky, Anthony, eds. Boston: Bedford/St Martins, 2008. (497-516)

Rodriguez, Richard. “The Achievement of Desire.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Bartholomae, David and Petrosky, Anthony, eds. Boston: Bedford/St Martins, 2008. (544-566)
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