Arts of the contact zone

Published: 2020-05-12 08:41:04
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In Mary Louise Pratt’s words of Arts of the Contact Zone”, a community is held together by a homogeneous competence or grammar shared identically and equally among all the members. ” (493) What she means by that is we all share the same traits. I am a member of the aviation community of The University of North Dakota. It consists of about 1,200 students and was started in 1968 by John D. Odegard. The department employs over 30 faculty members and offers the aviation education of your preferred choice. My fellow members of the UND aviation community are all identified in the department of aviation but are all characterized in their own way.
For example, on page 494 Pratt talks about models involving games. We are all involved in the same game, despite conflicts and systematic social differences. ” Groups of people will have one thing in common but each person is individually different. In my case, I am an Airport Management major from Minnesota and took my private pilots course at UND. I was and am currently taking many aviation classes which means I am most likely to relate to students who are in those same classes because of our shared interest in aerospace sciences. My community lives in Grand Forks but most are from other states.
We are all different ages and we are all on our own distinct level flight courses but are all involved with aviation. In Pratt’s essay she explains that there are three types of communities. Those various communities are sovereign, limited, and fraternal. Our community is a sovereign community. We have subtle leaders like teachers and the administration. These powers help keep us together and unified. The community is also limited. Limited, according to Pratt’s essay means finite, if elastic boundaries. ” (493) These boundaries are the policies and procedures of UND aerospace.
To be more specific one rule is no phones are allowed on the ramp unless there is an emergency. Another rule is your blood alcohol content must be below . 04. Fraternal is a deep, horizontal comradeship. ” (493) We are not willing to die for one another but the UND aviation community embodies fraternity. We are all interested in the same professions and have a goal of being successful. We are all equal and have the same rights. We may be on different levels but are all given the same opportunities. We have the liberty to have our own opinions and behavior as long as our behavior is safe.
It can be argued that we do not have much liberty because there are so many rules and regulations. These are all characteristics of a utopian society. My community seems very utopian to me. Our community shares the same grammar and language autochthonous to the United States. When I say language I do not necessarily mean just English. I am talking about how we speak to one another. We all know the same terms such a rudder and flaps and what they are. Anyone outside of the community might feel left out if such a topic came up around them.
Also, when we talk to ATC and other pilots in the air we do it in a strict form, that if broken may cause consequences. Our community is monolingual. There are Chinese students that speak their own language but in school and in their flight training are forced to speak English. Therefore, we all have the English language in common and it unifies us together. Although I think it unifies us, I believe in Pratt’s writing she is trying to make Americans feel better about transcultural communication and it is something we shouldn’t be afraid of.
Pratt introduces contact zones in her essay making a statement that it is a term that refers to social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such a colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they’re lived out in many parts of the world today. ” (487) She believes these contact zones are important in teaching diversity. One example of a contact zone in the aviation community is the shuttle from Odegard to the airport. The shuttle does not just transfer regular UND students to the airport but also Air China students.
Most of the time it is about half and half of each culture and while in the shuttle we all use our native tongue, English being mine and Chinese being theirs. This can make it a bit uncomfortable because our culture doesn’t know what the other is saying, but we do know one thing we have in common is we are all going out to the airport to fly or get a briefing. Talking to air traffic control is another contact zone, except this is not face to face. It is preformed over the radio. Pilots will repeat every direction ATC has given them and adhere to them carefully.
There are negatives and positives to the contact zone. As I have suggested, it is a negative that the UND monolingual community does not know what the Air China students are saying and the Air China students can understand most of what we are saying because they are forced to learn it by being here. Another negative is each country has their opinion about the other and might disagree on the way things are done there. When ATC and pilots interact with one another and the pilot misses an instruction it creates conflicts and can be unsafe.
This conflict zone is very stressful for the pilot to not get in trouble and also stressful for the air traffic controller because it is their duty to separate aircraft. A positive on the other hand is that we obviously all enjoy aviation and we can learn more about the other culture than just what we see and read in the media that may or, may not be true. Other contact zones of the aviation department are teacher to student because they may each have different perspectives on a topic. It is one pupil interacting with a superior adult. Stage check pilot to student and flight instructor to student are also contact zones.
The stage check pilot to student puts most of the pressure on the student to be respectful and not screw up. Flight instructor to student is the least pressure because they are teaching you brand new things you can’t argue with. Contact zones are important because people are able to gain a new perspective due to the fact that they are able to interact with people of a foreign culture. This action demonstrates the clashes between what we think we know, as opposed to how much that is out there that we don’t know. A phenomenon that happens in these contact zones is called transculturation.
Pratt acknowledges Ethnographers have used the term transculturation to describe processes whereby members of subordinated or marginal groups select and invent from materials transmitted by a dominant or metropolitan culture, they do determine to varying extents what gets absorbed into their own and what it gets used for. ” (491) She uses the Spanish takeover of the Inca empire to educate on transculturation. Guaman Poma of the Inca Empire wrote a letter to King Philip III in 1603. Guaman Poma accustoms himself to the invaders language because the Inca Empire had no system of writing.
For my example I’m going to refer to the air china students coming in from their country and taking on our language and ways of living. Contact zones can be unsafe with all the varying differences in opinions. A safe house is an idea of being in an area where you don’t have to worry about being judged. In Pratt’s essay she refers to them as 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. ”
Aviation classrooms are safe houses because we have shared understandings of what is going on in school and we can relate to them. For example if one person is having trouble passing a stage check there may be others to that had the same problem and will not judge the other person for it. We can all give each other advice because we know what they are going through. Safe houses allow us to express ourselves and engage with others. This to me is a good safe house for our community. I think the main idea of what Pratt says about contact zones is that we should better understand them to help us improve our understanding of other cultures.
They will help us shed light on people with different backgrounds. We can learn from Pratt’s essay to try and understand other cultures other than our own and to take advantage of contact zones instead of pushing them away. The UND aviation community is very large part of the university. It is a joy to be a part of a group that shares your same interest and things you go through. There are limitations though. For example, most of the community is men. It does not bother me that I am usually one out of two girls in my aviation related courses because I have gotten used to it.
Some men say girls cannot fly” and tend to underestimate us. With that in mind there may be a bit of sexism in our community. Another limitation is that I don’t have a diverse group of friends. I’d like to have more friends with other interests so I can talk about something else every once and a while. Rules are a huge limitation for some. There are alcohol rules, GPA rules, medical rules, safety rules. All of these are very serious and need to be followed or it could result in getting kicked out of the program.
As I said being monolingual should not limit us and we should be open about other languages. There are joys though of this community. It’s nice to know people with common interests and the people you meet in this community could be working with you someday. Many of the students in this group, not all, but many do not drink which is a quality in people that I appreciate. I also like being around more educated people than me because it encourages me to be more like them and keep pushing myself. In my opinion the joys of my community outweigh the limitations because this is who I am.

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