The contact zone

Something I didn’t take on in this long article I just published was Mary L. Pratt’s concept of the “contact zone,” which I also don’t like. I think it’s too abstract, too totalizing, too asceptic, too fuzzy, and above all, it assumes the existence of no-contact zones.

I know, languages in contact, cultures in contact. I know.

Are the Louisiana ICE detention facilities, where one visits, “contact zones” — or more to the point, what would be gained by calling them that? Is this term really any less problematic than “borderlands” (I know it is different)?

This, then, should be something I take up in the talk I’ve offered to give on the piece.


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