Our world today is populated with distinctive cultures and their unique languages, communication, beliefs, etc. that make our universe exquisitely diverse. As human beings, we tend to adapt to our own culture quite fast and we become used to perceiving our group of people as the only thing that is “good.” We fear wanting to assimilate or broaden our knowledge to other cultures, for it is our natural instinct to shut out anything unfamiliar to us.
In her essay, “Arts of the Contact Zone,” Mary Louise Pratt argues for importance of understanding the point where two cultures clash, the contact zone, and that it can be powerful to engage in one’s culture by expanding our grasp of knowledge and wisdom in the diversity we live in today. Pratt introduces three major concepts in her argument that exemplify the objective of her essay: the contact zone, autoethnographic texts, and transculturation.
Upon viewing two other pieces by Richard Rodriguez, “The Achievement of Desire” and Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Rodriguez and Anzaldua demonstrate Pratt’s argument by supporting her concepts about the influence of contact zones between two juxtaposing cultures. In her argument, “Arts of the Contact Zone,” Pratt introduces the theme of her argument, the contact zones: the point where cultures clash and come together in unison.
Where one culture has a lot more power than the other. A contact zone is the root of how every race and ethnicity should come under a consensus as to understanding the underlying meaning of each other’s differences and looking at perspectives in order to break down unnecessary barriers people put up.
Pratt demonstrates an example of this when she describes the letter Guaman Poma sent to the King of Spain. “Written in a mixture of Quechua and ungrammatical, expressive Spanish,” Poma mixed the ideas of the two cultures of Spanish and Incan coming together under what Pratt refers.