Kuan

Freewrite: Contact Zone

In freewrite on January 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm

What is a “contact zone” or how to define an “asymmetrical power”?

As Mary Louise Pratt puts,  contact zones are

“social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical power…”

Does my living room, which my two roomies and I share, counts as a social space? Does reading a religion book counts as where cultures meet, clash? Does having a discussion about God in contexts of highly asymmetrical power?

If the answers to those questions are positive. Then, I must be in a contact zone while I was reading Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom alone in my living room earlier. I must also be in a contact zone where a male student shouted “God creates the universe” in my philosophy class while we were having a discussion on the creation of the big bang. I must as well be in a contact zone everyday of my life as my beliefs, faiths meet, clash and grapple with those of others.

It is hard to define those terms, like contact zone or power, I think. I can take them either conceptually or otherwise literally. Man-made words must make sense to the mankind, and change over time, just as the modern in the 60s isn’t the same as today.

Over the course of past two days filled with going to new classrooms and meeting new professors, classmates, the expectation of what I could get out of the class has shifted. Originally, I was just interested in “resistance” and in knowing what the Americas are resisting to. As for now, I think I am more interested in knowing “how” are they resisting, and in understanding the word “identity.”

The rabbi in Albom’s book once said that when a baby comes to the world, his hands are clenched. Because a baby, not knowing any better, want to grab everything. Yet, an old person dies with his hands open, as he has learned the lesson that we can take nothing with us.

Neither can we take identities with us.

During the short period of life, how identity has shaped our lives and those of others? In colonization, how identity has been manipulated, controlled and led to resistance? What are my identities, and what am I resisting to? How am I preserved? Those are some inquiries that emerged in the beginning of the new semester.

In a diverse contact zone like our class, I am hoping to learn more about humanity, some fundamental aspects that define/separate the human race and many more that are unexpected.

Life is a revolving sequence, or at least I’d like to think so.

Advertisements
  1. I like how you are using your blog to really think through some complex ideas, Kuan. The complexity of identity is certainly one will tackle in this class. It would be an interesting assignment to self-reflect on all the identities we each find ourself both conforming to and resisting. What I find fascinating is how certain places we find ourselves in demand confronting different parts of ourself–parts, often, that we didn’t even know were buried deep inside us….

  2. I think the notion of self is really interesting. How I conceive myself is actually based on my interactions with others. I think without others, there is no self. Even some intuitions or instinctive reactions I have, I sometimes wonder if they come from my parents, or the environment. Certain habits and certain ways of thinking have been embedded in me that I thought they’re part of me, but actually they are reflections of others.

    When we find ourselves in demand confronting different parts of ourselves, maybe we are actually in demand confronting others? In order to find out the person buried deep inside us, we may actually have to find out who are the ones around us, in other words, others?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: