Contact zones and transculturation

English 3510

Contact zones and transculturation

(from American Passages)

Has Pablo Tac written an example of transculturation? What evidence from his text might defend that idea?

Transculturation: A term coined by Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz that refers to a process in which “members of subordinated or marginal groups select and invent from materials transmitted by a dominant culture.” Transculturation emphasizes the agency involved in cultural change, as well as the loss that accompanies cultural acquisition. In these ways, “transculturation” differs from the older terms “assimilation” and “acculturation,” which emphasize a more one-way transmission of culture from the colonizer to the colonized, from the dominant to the marginalized.

Contact zone: Term coined by scholar Mary Louise Pratt to describe the space of meeting between two cultures that had previously been separated geographically and historically. As Pratt putts it, a contact zone is an area in which previously separated peoples “come into contact with each other and establish ongoing relations, usually involving conditions of coercion, radical inequality, and intractable conflict.” Although unequal power relations characterized contact zones in the New World, with Europeans usually asserting dominance over native peoples, contact is never a one-way phenomenon. The interactive, improvisational nature of contact necessarily creates subjects who are impacted by relations with one another within mutually constituted experience.

Are there examples from our reading of contact as a two-way phenomenon?

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