A familiar lesson in elementary history might be that a conquered people will generally acculturate into the dominant culture of their conquerors. However, the process of how these two cultures interact is often not that simple. For example, the term transculturation was coined in the 1940s by sociologist Fernando Oritz to describe the process by which a conquered people choose and select what aspects of the dominant culture they will assume (Pratt 589). Unlike acculturation, transculturation recognizes the power of the subordinate culture to create its own version of the dominant culture. In an essay entitled, "The Arts of the Contact Zone," author Mary Louise Pratt argues that transculturation does not have to be confined to the social spaces where disparate cultures intersect; it can be extended to everyday situations, such as the classroom. However, though Pratt recognizes that transculturation can take place on a very personal level, she still fails to discuss the emotional nature of transculturation. An analysis of Derek Walcott's poem, "A Far Cry from Africa," using scholar Homi Bhabha's concept of "mimicry" will give a deeper understanding of Pratt's vision of transculturation by redefining it as a process of personal struggle by which each individual in a subordinate group is moved to choose and select which aspects of the dominant culture he or she will assume.
"A Far Cry From Africa" is the story of a man half African and half English, who is witnessing the death and destruction of his homeland resulting from the English colonization of South Africa. In his description he does not, however, favor one side over the other, but focuses rather on the injustices of both cultures. At the end of the po...
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Bhabha, Homi. "From 'Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse' in the Location of Culture, pp. 85-92." Stanford Presidential Lectures and Symposia
in the Humanities and Arts. 02 March 2000. 15 September 2000. <http://
Bradley, Heather M. "Conflicting Loyalties in 'A Far Cry from Africa'". Literature of the Caribbean. The Scholarly Technology Group, Washington and Lee University.
1997. 15 September 2000. <http://landow.stg.brown.edu/post/caribbean/walcott/
Pratt, Mary Louise. "Arts of the Contact Zone". Ways of Reading. Ed. David
Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. 5th ed. Boston: St. Martin's, 1999. 582-596.
Walcott, Derek. "A Far Cry from Africa". Derek Walcott Collected Poems 1948-1984.
New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986. 17-18.
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