Ways of Seeing

Ethnographic or rather ethnography is termed as the qualitative thick description of daily practice and life (Hoey). Arts of the contact zone was a writing carried out by Louise Pratt, where she employed phrases and terms such as safe house, imagined community, and autoethnography to try and express the way of thinking of her feelings and thoughts about actual and historical actions she speaks on. She also comes up with imaginary spaces where inequalities and differences are recognized and even sensed. These made-up spaces she termed them the contact zones, and up to date numerous people come across the contact zones to learn, teach or still contradict the theories and ideas that are in objection and scrutiny today (Linguistic Utopias, pg 48).

Contact zones which are extensively discussed by Pratt in reference for them being social spaces in the places where cultures grapple, clash, and meet among each other, habitually in backgrounds of extremely uneven dealings of power, for instance such as slavery, colonialism or their impacts as they are widespread and lived out in various regions of the globe today (Pratt 584). The thought brought about by contact zone is with the intentions partly to show differences with thoughts of the people that generate a great deal of the philosophy about culture, communication, and language.

A contact zone as explained can be constructive, for instance in a learning institution or a classroom where learners are from diverse backgrounds. This phenomenon gives populace an approach to discuss and talk definite aspects of the past. It presents a chance for recognizing with the history, interests, and even ideas of others. This necessitates interaction and correspondence among populace. Seemingly she argued out that a contact zone can be unconstructive, for instance in scenarios like colonialism. A nation captivating over a different resident community is termed as oppression, to a certain extent than a swap over of ideas. This specific phenomenon was taken over by the Andeans, in particular Guaman Poma, where they tried to explicate it to their captors, the Spanish (Mary, pg.37).

In accordance to Pratt’s arguments, the two characteristic observable fact of the contact zone are known to be transculturation and autoethnographic text an outstanding feature of the autoethnographic text is that it typically entails some wide-ranging collaborating course by populace of diverse intellectual and social classes. Inscription classes may have a few implications with the contact zone as of this faction effort course. For the duration of this progression each hidden and marginalized voice is able to be heard, and more so not to point out each entity member be able to find out how to negotiate and form a view in the outburst of every contradictory opinions of faction members of diverse cultural setting. Additionally, transculturation is termed as processes in which members of inferior or minor groups choose and devise from resources transmitted by a conquered culture (Linguistic Utopias, pg 50).

Much has been talked about the writing done by Felipe Guaman Pome de Ayala titled the first new chronicle and good government which in this autoethnographic exploration is extensively discussed. This letter which Pratt describes to have been written by Guaman Poma, is seen to consist or rather bring out several contact zones which as argued out earlier are regions of interaction and conflict between diverse cultures. The setting in which Guaman Poma concentrated his writings was of the colonial type where the Spanish had conquered his native land Andes (Mary pg. 37).

The first subsection of Guaman’s letter is titled the New Chronicle, which formed a major writing tool during which the colonialists who were the Spanish offered their American invasions to themselves. This writing represented a major official discourses where the writer employed the Spanish genre so as to build clearly a new depiction of the earth through Christianity for Andean inhabitants in the middle of it rather than the Europeans. He started by redrafting the Christian account of the earth from its beginning with Adam and Eve (Fig. 1)

He went forth and incorporated the Amerindians society into the history where he put them as progeny of Noah’s sons. He went further and constructed an actual encyclopaedia of dynastic leaders, public offices, social forms, laws, customs, pre-Inca and Inca history. These representations resembled European customs and manners description together with the detailed records showing how knowledge or information in the Inca community was piled up in oral recollections of the elders and on quipus (Mary, pg 40).

The new chronicle is a case in point which clearly defines autoethnographic text whereby it shows how people assume to depict themselves in conduct that connect with the representations other people have put for them. These autoethnographic texts form representations which come about through their construction by the so distinct others in dialogue or reaction to the texts.

This first part commonly known as the New Chronicle tries to expound on how people described themselves together with the descriptions other people gave them. Guaman criticizes the invasion of Spanish to his native lands where he argues out that both the Spanish and Incans ought to have existed together in peace as equals. Pratt tries to bring out the contact zone where she shows that through the art made up by the Incans who were the oppressed distinctively illustrated the general outlook of the Spanish who at that time were the oppressors.  Guaman’s description of Spanish subjugation shows the greed behind them where in fact he goes further to parody them by showing how the Spanish territories were full of commotions as they all through dreamt of silver, gold, Indies. The drawing below depicts the Spanish lusts for silver, and even gold (Art of the contact zone pg. 2).

Pratt quoted the above expressions to depict an example of a subjugated theme by the use of the oppressors’ language so as to create an oppositional, and parodist representation of the oppressors’ own speech. Guaman reflects back to the conquerors who in this case were the Spanish by using their language even though it was foreign to him to bring out a representation of themselves which they regularly tried to suppress and thus certainly they would recognize. Such like phenomenon showed the dynamics of representation, writing, and language in contact zones (Linguistic Utopias pg 51).

Then Guaman wrote a second subsection of his writing which was titled Good Government and Justice, which in which consists of an account of the colonial civilization in the region of Andean where he denounces or rather, criticizes the Spanish abuse, oppression, and exploitation of the natives. He goes further through the art of writing to criticize the compelling implacable hostility carried out by the clergy, together with the colonial overseers. The figure below depicts the Spanish oppression of the natives and also abuses of power.

Guaman’s writing goes further to even give praises to just men, Christian habits, and good works wherever he came across them. He says his mind in trying to show what constituents would make up a good government and justice where for instance he argued that the Indies ought to have been governed by collaboration between the Spanish and Inca elites. The letter closes in a manner where a made-up were question and response setting is brought up in which the ruler poses questions to Guaman on how transform the monarchy.

Following the comprehensive argument by Guaman on Good Government and Justice, Pratt affirms a subsequent act of the contact zone where she comes up with transculturation which generally meant that the oppressed populace regulated what they accepted from the domineering mix and culture from the colonizers with their sole thoughts to generate a new society. She expounds on the issue of transculturation where she states that it upholds Christian ideas, whilst also totalling Incan symbolism and culture. She further goes on to show how Guaman’s writing reflects personification of the contact zone, whereby it verbalizes to both Spaniards and Incans differently.

All the above writings put across the results of continuing contact and unequal, intractable conflict. Several literacy arts were evident all throughout the writings discussed above which formed up the contact zone. These arts include vernacular expression, imaginary dialogue, denunciation, critique, transculturation, and even autoethnography.

Seemingly Pratt's work Arts of the Contact Zone appears to present several comparable thoughts as that of Berger's Ways of Seeing. Both Pratt and Burger converse on diverse points of analysis. For instance, Berger looks nearer by unfolding particularly the perception of persons, whereas Pratt talks in general about the outlook of diverse cultures. Just like how Berger illustrates that two individuals can’t have the similar viewpoint, also reflects in cultures where two cultures as well can’t encompass matching perception. People and cultures will generally present dissimilar depictions of themselves. Lastly like how Berger addresses on the issue of mystification, where by populace toil to subjugate every one’s perception, Pratt articulates that civilization also attempt to repress one another. Both writers moreover develop on this thought, where together the cultures and people can decide what they acknowledge and vice versa. The people or the culture cannot be in command of what other natives accept as true, however they can be in charge of what they accept as true (Mary, pg. 38).


In conclusion, the Guaman Poma’s work extensively shows how it’s an outcome generated by the contact zone. If someone thinks of literatures, or cultures as Guaman’s text, monolingual edifices, coherently structured, and discrete then all the autoethnographic work   emerges as out of the ordinary. On the contrary if these thoughts are not conceived, then the work is heterogeneous, as evident in the Andean area and remains up to date. Such like writing work is diverse on both the production and reception end. Thus it reads differently to all the people in diverse locales in the entire contact zone. Since it sets out the Andean and European systems of connotation making, the work essentially has different meanings to the bilingual Spanish-Quechua speaking society and also to the monolingual spoken people in whichever language. For instance the drawings have different meanings when it comes to the Andean, Spanish, or monocultural readers and also bicultural ones reacting to the Andean figurative constructions personified in the European genres.

Nevertheless, although Guaman Poma’s work didn’t arrive at its proposed target, the transcultural motions of expression it represented continued to develop in the Andes region, as they yet do fewer in inscription than in religious belief, structures of governance, textile art, dress, sculpture and painting, dance-drama, song, ritual, storytelling, and numerous further vernacular forms of art. 

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