Posts Tagged ‘Mary Louise Pratt’

  • 2004-05 Winner: “Chief Seattle’s Real Message” by David Wu

    Date: 2005.09.15 | Category: Selected Essays | Response: 0

    “Chief Seattle’s Real Message” by David Wu PDF

    “There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind… but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory.”
    –Attributed to Chief Seattle

    Controversy surrounds the speech Chief Seattle delivered in 1855 during a land treaty negotiation with Governor Issac Stevens.  On one hand, we worship Seattle’s eloquent words for their unique insight on the Native American perspective.  On the other hand, debate rages over the authenticity of the speech’s only existing recording, a reproduction produced by Dr. Henry Smith thirty years after the event. Many facts about Smith’s situation still remain clouded.

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  • 2002-03 Winner (First Place): “The Art of the Safe House” by Elizabeth Watkins

    Date: 2003.07.15 | Category: Selected Essays | Response: 0

    “The Art of the Safe House” by Elizabeth Watkins PDF

    In her essay, “Arts of the Contact Zone,” Mary Louise Pratt defines the contact zone as “[ . . . ] social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical power [ . . . ]” (Pratt 575).  It can be a dangerous place, where people are easily misunderstood and hurt.  It can also be a place of mutual understanding, new wisdom, and the wonder that comes when people learn from each other.  Because the contact zone is so unpredictable, Pratt also talks about the need for places where people can retreat from the contact zone and feel safe.  She calls these places “safe houses” and uses the term to “[ . . . ] refer to social and intellectual spaces where groups can constitute themselves as horizontal, homogeneous, sovereign communities with high degrees of trust, shared understandings, temporary protection from legacies of oppression” (Pratt 586).  However, this idea of “safe houses” is not unique to Pratt.  Gloria Anzaldúa is an American Chicano writer, whose essay, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” also implies the need for places of shared understanding.  Anzaldúa and Pratt both recognize the need for safe houses.  However, Pratt believes that they can be formed inherently within a culture, and so fails to recognize their complexities, where as, Anzaldúa takes these complexities into account, and would argue that a common cultural heritage does not inherently create a safe house.

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  • 2002-03 Winner (Fourth Place): “The Vulnerable Culture” by Saumil Gandhi

    Date: 2003.07.12 | Category: Selected Essays | Response: 0

    “The Vulnerable Culture” by Saumil Gandhi PDF

    In the past and to this day, the Indian culture has been under the constant influence of the western world.  This influence that was first welcomed is now slowly but surely becoming a threat to the survival of the Indian cultural beliefs.  The magnitude of this influence encompasses from the entertainment industry to traditional family values.  Some Indians call this influence an unwanted change and term it as a cultural genocide.  They believe with the introduction of this genocide our rich ancient culture is at stake. Mary Louise Pratt, author of the article “Arts of the Contact Zone,” terms the process by which this unwanted change is introduced in a culture as a “contact zone.” She defines this term as [ . . . ] “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power” [ . . . ] (Pratt 575).  This social space created by the clash of two or more cultures tends to engulf the subordinate culture by the culture in authority and dominance, leaving the subordinate culture vulnerable to extinction. I fear the extinction of these subordinate cultures and believe that the contact zone in India enables the dominant Western culture to diminish and inhibit the growth of traditional Indian and other minority cultures.

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The editorial committee of e.g., UW’s online journal of 100-level writing, is pleased to announce the winning essays for 2009-10: Paige Edmiston, “The Tell Tale Word: The Role of Authorship in Literary Analysis” and Jessica Oscoy, “The Irony of Higher Education.” Submissions for the 2011-12 academic year are currently being accepted until the end of September 2012.

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