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"Art of Contact Zone"

The book Art of Contact Zone, by Mary-Louse Pratt describes many ideas and concept of life as people perceive it today. She defines the term “contact zone” as a social space, in which social aspect of life, like culture clashes, are met. She empathizes on powers, like colonialism, slavery and their aftermath, as many parts of the worlds experience them today. She put across ideas which tend to contrast the ideas of a community that thinks and practices much about the language, communication, and cultural practice. The book includes aspects of auto-ethnographic texts on trans-culture relations with people of different social classes, interacting and sharing ideas. The aspect of transculture comes across when the minority groups adopt the cultural practice of the major groups. Communities change their cultural practices and adopt the new ones, which they learn from other groups of people.


The story shares some ideas from what learned from some characters like Columbus, Cabeza de Vaca and Smith. There are some ideas brought about in the story, which assist people from many communities, to change and focus on thing, which can help in life, and hence, avoid the influence of colonialism. She brought about the aspect of language and cultural issues. Pratt explains the concept of peace and disregards the aspect of resistance of change of culture in the region. The colonization by different people has made the inhabitants of their land change what they knew from their childhood, and adopt new cultures. The most powerful colonizers have been linked to the story of forcing people to change their culture and belief and adopt the new one (William 24).

Pratt focuses a lot on the obstacle of promoting the language learning in America. She flames the argument on the language acquisition from a mixed cultural wedding. The wedding was held in California, and the groom spoke Urdu, while the community of the bride spoke Gujarati and Urdu. They both practiced Muslim, but the groom come from southern California, and many people in the region regarded southern people to be laid back and primitive (Jane 41).

Pratt uses the wedding example to explain the Americans myths about the language. She criticized the four concepts of learning the language in America. She described the four concepts that have brought insecurity in the region and made the critical language institutes to have the mandate to solve those crises. The four concept have been explained, and they include the heritage language that had to be rejected by immigrants. The immigrants were not willing to change the heritage language and this brought about more crises. Second factor is the American rejection of multilingualism is a manner, in which the Americans accepted it. They were hostile in accepting changes. The third is the concept of learning the second language. Children have wide possibilities of learning the second language, and this creates problem in the language and culture change. The fourth factor is a need of language expertise to improve the status of national security. She sees those four factors to have created resistance to learning the language, and to temper the national security (Pratt 38).

Pratt explains a need of learning language, and empathizes on the need to improve and change people perception of language. She explains how people should change their perception, in accordance to the four factors since they hinder the language learning. She explains that language learning can improve the idea of people and improve their life style. She outlines that the four factors need promotion in order to encourage language acquisition in America, which can improve the social life and widen the social boundaries. She recognizes a need to make people change their perception of mono- and multilingualism. She sees mono-lingualism to be a handicap, and the rejection of multilingualism leads to people being limited and unable to built trans-cultural communication. She calls for encouragement of adopting the heritage language and learning the second-language. She empathizes on learning and practicing heritage language and this can come up with interaction with local non-English speaking communities. She explains that using the heritage language can promote language learning, and this can improve the idea of trans-cultural understanding. She adds that, the educators of language should put effort to encourage people to learn and show the benefits of teaching an individual the language (Anthony 12).

Along side with Smith, Columbus, and Cabeza de Vaca, people should get to know language and interact with others and this minimizes the idea of colonialism. Many people reject what is new, because they want to remain dominant and they always want their culture to receive support from other communities. The aspect of the language learning reduces slavery and effects of colonialism, because all people feel equal and have respect for each other. The idea of language promotion creates a need of union and togetherness despite of disunity, which is caused by crises and insecurity in America. The concepts, described by Pratt, hinder the work of explorers and colonizers, intending to get help from the communities (William 22).


Pratt defines Contact zones as “social spaces where culture meets, clash, and grabble with each other”. She perceives culture in relation to power and interaction between different classes. The concepts, explained by Pratt, assist people to promote peace and resolve conflicts among the communities. The concept of language has signified the current speech communities; it promotes the relation and changes the aspect of social class discrimination. The aspect of language is put as a practice of power, because those in power tend to make people follow their ideas. People usually use language to resist these ideas. Pratt emphasizes and do not want to lessen the role of the teachers, who control students (Pratt 35).

When the explorers get to any country, they employ their strategies and teach people new ideas, in order to make people believe in them; however, the communities usually resist the concepts of the language acquisition. They used these concepts to explore the resistance to colonization. They discriminated other people and this is evidenced when they regarded people from some regions to be primitive and undeveloped. Discrimination, described in the story, shows that people could not have respect to each other and this brought out crises, because some communities were regarded as powerless and rigid one (Anthony 32).

In America today, the majority of social groups dominates in most institutions and hold powerful positions. This shows that the discrimination still exists and has been extended to the current world. The explorers have been unsuccessful exploring the regions of America, since the difference among the people created insecurity and people could not interact with others easily due to discrimination. Individuals rejected the concept of learning and adopting the new ideas and culture from other groups, and this made it difficulty for explores to share their ideas with the communities (Jane 45).


Pratt teaches the concepts of living with others, and the way of associating with the society. She helps in developing the idea of promoting peace and security on the national level. The ideas, grasped from Pratt’s explanations, assist all communities to live together peacefully and solve the existing conflicts. Interaction and sharing the same language assist individuals to respect each other and avoid discrimination; it also promotes equality among all people and ethnic groups. Discrimination leads to conflict, and communities should interact with each other despite the social status.

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