The Catharsis of the Contact Zone

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The Catharsis of the Contact Zone In a Judeo-Christian society, people would respect their neighbor's sacrosanct beliefs, values, and interpretation of "reality." Yet, society doesn't follow the guidelines of the Judeo-Christian moral code. The ideologies of corporate America have become part of the official religion in which language (written and spoken) indisputably separates superior from inferior. Clearly, words are power. History shows that language has the power to influence, change, and even kill. Mary Louise Pratt's "Arts of the Contact Zone" and Leslie Marman Silko's "Books: Notes on Maya and Mixtec Screenfolds" discuss the many forms of literacy and the various forces that retard our understanding of different people's culture. Using the events of the past to understand the misunderstandings of the present, both authors present a catharsis that permits us to grapple with the contact zone. Silko and Pratt emphasize that the dominant culture will use literacy as its source of power to preserve a certain viewpoint. Whether it's from the point of view of the Pueblo Indians or Incas, the dominant culture uses its authority and language to dehumanize the "savage" culture in order to maintain the status quo. Truly, no perfect status quo exists, but the control of the language and "print capitalism", and thus the thought, creates a false sense of equal coexistence within the dominant culture. It's their way of controlling the line of communication by not allowing members of their society to gain insight into the lives of others who hold different "truths" than themselves. Amidst this cultural contact zone, literacy serves as a mark of civilization and a power capable of influencing and threatening the dominant cult... ... middle of paper ... ...can be aired and challenged by those with different histories, then can prejudices be potentially overcome and open/free communication can prevail. The power of literacy is undisputable; it is the perfect median for communication between any two cultures and any two statuses. While it is often abused by a dominant power to suppress other "truths", it's advantageous for the weaker culture struggling to be heard. Through the power of the word, the suppressed can express their opinions, and these opinions are a form of resistance against domination. While total open and free communication is unlikely because power roles in society are definite, "progress" can be made. Whether it's through the heterogeneous classroom or other mode of open communication, once people of all backgrounds are seen as equal in the contact zone, then the potential for a catharsis increases.

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