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The Connection Between the Arts of Contact Zone and Schooling

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The Connection between the Arts of Contact Zone and Schooling

Pratt's essay, "Arts of the Contact Zone" reminded me my high school years. It is not after reading her essay that I realized that most of the terms she used; like contact zone, transculturation, and imagined community; could also be applied to my own experience. According to Pratt, contact zone is the "social space where cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other" (Pratt 487). A contact zone can be both positive and negative. A position contact zone could be places like school where people with different background can communicate with each other and adapt other people's culture. An example of negative contact zone could be colonialism. A country taking over another native community is oppression, rather than an exchange of ideas.

Imagined community, in simple words, is the idea of a person belonging to a larger group in concept only, but he or she does not revolve with other members of this group. It is a concept coined by Benedict Anderson. He believes that a nation is a community socially constructed, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group. Just like Pratt says, imagined community is an unrealistic "utopia". In most school, not only high school, but middle school and college as well, Asians hang out with Asian people, Whites hang out with White people, and Blacks hang out with Black people. The societies often profess equality, fraternity, and liberty, but everyone has a deep inner culture discrimination against people with different culture. I'm not saying that people do not want to hang out with people with different culture. But from my own experience, I found that I have more topics to talk about, or I feel more comfortable around people with similar culture background. When I am around people with difference background, I always find myself unconsciously adjusting my behavior in order to blend into their little society, which is very tired. On the surface, a school is a big community where everyone gets a chance to meet with different people, but this community does not exist for real. It is an imagined communities made by difference small groups of people.

I believe the above is an example of contact zone because multiple cultures are met at one place. Not only people from difference country, also people from difference social background. The communication students make to teachers, peers make to peers are all examples of culture clashing. Like I said before, the school is made up by many student groups. Each group has some kind of different background, and school is a place for these groups to "meet, clash, and grapple with each other" (Pratt 487), thus creating the social space of contact zone.

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. A familiar lesson in elementary history might



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