Pratt Reading - ADAM PHILLIPS iething as Icarus or Oedipus...

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Unformatted text preview: ADAM PHILLIPS iething; as. Icarus or Oedipus or Nar~ nnot describe ourselves Without albo rom, and what we believe we need to iographical essays in the textbook, to Village" (p. 93), to Renato liosaldo, a. 588), to Gloria Anzaldua, “Entering v to Tame a Wild Tongue” (p. 77), to rent of Desire” (pl 562), to John Edgar i anv other selection you feel might be e oftwriting to Phillips’s test. it all you there on the page, if the "person you vithin those sentences, how does that \r'riter needs to escape from and what to escape to? MARY LOUISE PRATT a chapter that takes a brief look at two a saw, "if it is the idea of escape~the min something, then language 15corn~ rselves elsewhere.” The implication is d in language And this passage at the ige from the very beginning, included iether we are getting away from some ng; as lcarus or Oedipus or Narcrsbus, ciibe ourselves without also describing vhat we believe we need to escape to. id Renato Rosaldo, as an ethnographer, stand people whose lives are different, :h are involved in the game of hide and Wside ”Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage iii to two things: what each says about .i to speak for the "other,” and how, in his project, this work. Present the hive ch11 for someone who had not yet read sent them as a way of thinking about rms of protesgionol labor. MARY LOUISE PRATT (b. 1948) grew up in Listowel, Ontario, a small Canadian farm town. She got her BA. at the University of Toronto and her PhD. from Stan~ ford University, where for nearly thirty years she was a professor in the departments of comparative literature and Spanish and Portuguese At Stanford, she was one of the Cryounders of the new freshman culture program, a controversial series of required courses that replaced the old Western civilization core courses. The course she is particularly associated with is called ”Europe and the rlnzericas”; it brings together European representations of the Americas with indigenous American texts. As you might guess from the essay that follows, the program at Stanford expands the range of countries, languages, cultures, and forts that are soon as a necessary introduction to the world; it also, however, rrziiscs the very idea ofculturc that many of us take for granted~—particularly the idea that culture, at its best, expresses common values in a common lan— guage. Among other awards and honors, Pratt is the recipient of a Guggenheim {willows/zip and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral rhizomes, Stanford University. She recently joined the faculty at New York University, where she was named Silver Professor in the Department of Spanish 515 516 MARY LOUISE PRA'rr and Portuguese. She served as president of the Modern Language Association for 2003. Pratt is the author of Toward a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse (1977) and coauthor ofWomen, Culture, and Politics in Latin America (1990), the textbook Linguistics for Students of Literature t 1980), Amor Bruio: The Images and Culture of Love in the Andes (1991)), and Imperial Eyes: Studies in Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992). The essay that follows was he introduction to Imperial Eyes, which is particularly about revised to serve as t hteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Europe European travel writing in the elg was ”discovering" Africa and the Americas. l t argues that travel writing produced "the rest of the world " for European readers. it didn't ”own” on Africa or South America; it produced an "Africa” or an "America" for European consumption. Travel writing produced places that could he thought of as barren, empty] undevel— oped, inconceivable, needful of European influence and control, ready to serve European industrial, intellectual, and cmnmercial interests. The reports oftraoel— ers or, later, scientists and anthriniologists are part of a more general process by which the emerging industrial nations took possession ofnew territory. The European understanding QfPerIl,/il)f example, came through European ac— counts, notfroni attempts to understand or elicit responses from Andeans, Peru— vian natives. Such a response was delivered, when an Andean, Cuanznn Porna, wrote to King Philip III of Spain, but his letter was unreadable. Pratt is interested in inst those moments of contact twtween peoples and cultures. She is interested in how King Philip read (orfailed to read) a letterfrom Peru, lint also in how someone like Gunman Poma prepared himself to write to the king of Spain. To fix these mo) meats, she makes use of a phrase she coined, the "contact zone, ” which, she says, I use to refer to the space of colonial encounters, the space in which peoples geographically and historically separated come into contact with each other and establish ongoing relations, usually involving conditions of coercion, radical inequality, and intractable conflict. . . . By using the term ”contact," I aim to foreground the interactive, im~ prooisational dimensions of colonial encounters so easily ignored or suppressed by dithisionist accounts of conquest and dominatimi. A "contact" perspective emphasizes how subjects are constituted in and In; their relations to each other. It treats the relations among colonizers and colonized, or travelers and ”traveler's," not in terms ofseparateness or apartheid, but in terms ofcopresence, interaction, interlocking an» derstandings and practices. Like Adrienne Rich’s ”When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re—Vision" (and/tor that matter, Clifford Ceertz's ”Deep Play”), ”Arts of the Contact Zone" runs first written as a lecture. It was delivered as a keynote address at the second Modern Language Association Literacy Cornerence, held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1990. ;..-.-..,.r, When mind is a and his be trade me not how y and Willie mg, with t The name was the iii their own Sam at pher surn.‘ weights, [0 Sam apply trading rel of patterni on end, an series, layc shape in hi around trac portance of aken adva economic: li “honey, the ions of long that are ind. Baseball earned abo aseball bO( ties, biograr Sam learnec hrough has, tome plate. for one’s be lamiws some how men an haseball star." n’ieteomlogy pertise, of kr :ersation wi at ultmesper Emseball histi MARY Low ‘ : PRAIT (lilt’f’ll Language Association ieory of Literary Discourse ics in Latin America (1990), ‘e (1980), Amor Brujo: The and Imperial Eyes: Studies The essay that follows was i, which is particularly about rut/z centuries, when Europe that tmvcl writing produced ”report” on Africa or Scnztb for European consmnption. zlos barren, mnpty, undevel— ind control, ready to serve ’rests. The reports oftmnel— to more general process by ofnezo territory. came through European ac— onses from Angle/ms, Pom n Andean, Gunman Poll/1a, readable. Pratt is interested ultnres. She is interested in '11, but also in how someone gofSpnin. To fix these mo— ! zone, ” 2'1 ’lzirlz, she says, the space in which come into contact usually involving mirth/t) (tmflic’t. i . i the interactive, im~ :2 easily ignored or erd domination. A constituted in and 5 among colonizers rnzs ofseparotencss 2, interlocking 1m- “K W213) Profession fig; Jeep ’ :39 it , j ‘oml , e, l in Arts of the Contact Zone Whenever the subject of literacy comes up, what often pops first into my mind is a conversation I overheard eight years ago between my son Sam and, his best friend, Willie, aged six and seven, respectively: ”Why don’t you trade me Many Trails for Carl Yats. . . Yesits . i . Ya—strum’scrum.” ”That’s not how you say it, dummy, it’s Carl Yes . . . Yes. . . oh, I don’t know.” Sam and Willie had just discovered baseball cards. Many Trails was their decod~ ing, with the help of tirst~grade English phonics, of the name Manny Trillo. The name they were quite rightly stumped on was Carl Yastrzemski. That was the first time i remembered seeing them put their incipient literacy to their own use, and l was of course thrilled. Sam and Willie learned a lot about phonics that year by trying to deci— pher surnames on baseball cards, and a lot about cities, states, heights, weights, places of birth, stages of life. In the years that followed, I watched Sam apply his arithmetic skills to working out batting averages and sub- tracting retirement years from rookie years; I watched him develop senses of patterning and order by arranging and rearranging his cards for hours on end, and aesthetic judgment by comparing different photos, different series, layouts, and color schemes. American geography and history took shape in his mind through baseball cards Much of his social life revolved around trading them, and he learned about exchange, fairness, trust, the im« portance of processes as opposed to results, what it means to get cheated, taken advantage of, even robbed. Baseball cards were the medium of his economic life too. Nowhere better to learn the power and arbitrariness of money, the absolute divorce between use value and exchange value, no- tions of long— and short—term investment, the possibility of personal values that are independent of market values. Baseball cards meant baseball card shows, where there was much to be learned about adult worlds as well. And baseball cards opened the door to baseball books, shelves and shelves of encyclopedias, magazines, histo~ ties, biographies, novels, books of jokes, anecdotes, cartoons, even poems. 9am learned the history of American racism and the struggle against it through baseball; he saw the Depression and two world wars from behind home plate. He learned the meaning of commoditied labor, what it means for one’s body and talents to be owned and dispensed by another. He knows something about Japan, Taiwan, Cuba, and Central America and how men and boys do things there. Through the history and experience of baseball stadiums he thought about architecture, light, wind, t('>pography, meteorol(,)gy, the dynamics of public space. He learned the meaning of ex~ pertise, of knowing about something well enough that you can start a con- versation with a stranger and feel sure of holding your own. Even with an adultmespecially with an adult. Throughout his preadolescent years, baseball history was Sam’s luminous point of contact with grown—ups, his 517 518 MARY Lomsr: PRATT lifeline to caring. And, of course, all this time he was also playing baseball, struggling his way through the stages of the local Little League system, lucky enough to be a pretty good player, loving the game and coming to know deeply his strengths and weaknesses. Literacy began for Sam with the newly pronounceable names on the picture cards and brought him what has been easily the broadest, most varied, most enduring, and most integrated experience of his thirteen—year life. Like many parents, I was delighted to see schooling give Sam the tools with which to find and open all these doors. At the same time I found it unforgivable that schooling itself gave him nothing remotely as meaningful to do, let alone anything that would actually take him beyond the referential, masculinist ethos of baseball and its lore. However, l was not invited here to speak as a parent, nor as an expert on literacy. I was asked to speak as an MLA {Modern Language Associa- tion] member working in the elite academy. In that capacity my contribu- tion is undoubtedly supposed to be abstract, irrelevant, and anchored outside the real world. I wouldn’t dream of disappointing anyone. I pro~ pose immediately to head back several centuries to a text that has a few points in common with baseball cards and raises thoughts about what Tony Sarmiento, in his comments to the conference, called new visions of literacy, In 1908 a I’eruvianist named Richard I’ietschmann was exploring in the Danish Royal Archive in Copenhagen and came across a manu— script. It was dated in the city of Cuzco in Peru, in the year 1613, some forty years after the final fall of the Inca empire to the Spanish and signed with an unmistakably Andean indigenous name: Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala. Written in a mixture of Quechua and ungrammatical, expres— sive Spanish, the manuscript was a letter addressed by an unknown but apparently literate Andean to King Philip III of Spain. What stunned I’ietschmann was that the letter was twelve hundred pages long. There were almost eight hundred pages of written text and four hundred of captioned line drawings It was titled The First New Chronicle and Good Government. No one knew (or knows) how the manuscript got to the li— brary in Copenhagen or how long it had been there. No one, it appeared, had ever bothered to read it or figured out howl Quechua was not thought of as a written language in I908, nor Andean culture as a literate culture. l’ietschmann prepared a paper on his find, which he presented in London in 1912, a year after the rediscovery of Machu I’icchu by Hiram Bingham. Reception, by an international congress of Americanists, was apparently confused. It took twenty‘t'ive years for a facsimile edition of the work to appear in Paris. It was not till the late l970s, as positivist read ing habits gave way to interpretive studies and colonial elitisms to post« colonial pluralisms, that Western scholars found ways of reading Guaman l’oma’s New Chronicle and Good Government as the extraordinary intercul» tural tour de force that it was, The letter got there, only 350 years too late, a miracle and a terrible tragedy. zit/ts of the I prop text, in orc like to call cultures r1 highly asy their after) Eventually many of u lenge toda Philip III. Insofar tied the S()( was an ind adopted (at Spanish col Spanish tax from his ha cess to relig Cuamar and Quechi Chronicle.” writing app conquests t( In writing a genre for his ture of the v European pt Chronicle CL world from ans into it as of Christian Andean histx and reintersr to have pret pages, Guam Inca history, ers. The depi but also repr society was st Guamah l to call an auto dertake to de others have n European me“ ally their con that the so-de: MARY LOUISE PRATT 3 he was also playing baseball, to local Little League system, wing the game and coming to pronounceable names on the lien easily the broadest, most experience of his thirteen~year u see schooling give Sam the se doors. At the same time I gave him nothing remotely as ould actually take him beyond and its lore. lk as a parent, nor as an expert 5i [Modern Language Associa' . In that capacity my contribu— ‘act, irrelevant, and anchored fdisappointing anyone. I pro— ituries to a text that has a few d raises thoughts about what nference, called new Visions of rd Pietschmann was exploring gen and came across a manu» 1 Peru, in the year 1613, some pire to the Spanish and signed 9 name: Felipe Guaman Poma a and ungrammatical, expres' iddressed by an unknown but p [H of Spain. What stunned we hundred pages long. There ten text and four hundred of * First New Chronicle and Good I the manuscript got to the li« .‘en there. No one, it appeared, out how. Quechua was not or Andean culture as a literate find, which he presented in ry of Machu I’icchu by Hiram ongress of Americanists, was ears for a facsimile edition of re late l970s, as positivist read— and colonial elitisms to post- :und ways of reading Gunman as the extraordinary intercul- : there, only 350 years too late, I propose to say a few more words about this erstwhile unreadable text, in order to lay out some thoughts about writing and literacy in what I like to call the contact zones. I use this term to refer to social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today. Eventually I will use the term to reconsider the models of community that many of us rely on in teaching and theorizing and that are under chal» lenge today. But first a little more about Cuaman Poma’s giant letter to Philip Ill. Insofar as anything is known about him at all, Guaman Poma exempli- fied the sociocultural complexities produced by conquest and empire. He was an indigenous Andean who claimed noble Inca descent and who had adopted (at least in some sense) Christianity. He may have worked in the Spanish colonial administration as an interpreter, scribe, or assistant to a Spanish tax collectormas a mediator, in short. He says he learned to write from his half brother, a mestizo whose Spanish father had given him ac» cess to religious education. (Suaman I’oma’s letter to the king is written in two languages (Spanish and Quechua) and two parts. The first is called the Nueva cordnica, ”New Chronicle." The title is important. The chronicle of course was the main writing apparatus through which the Spanish presented their American conquests to themselves. It constituted one of the main official discourses. in writing a ”new chronicle,” Guaman Poma took over the official Spanish genre for his own ends. Those ends were, roughly, to construct a new pic» ture of the world, a picture of a Christian world with Andean rather than European peoples at the center of it~Cuzco, not Jerusalem. In the New Chronicle Guaman I’oma begins by rewriting the Christian history of the world from Adam and Eve (Fig. l [p. 520]), incorporating the Amerindi— ans into it as offspring of one of the sons of Noah. He identifies five ages of Christian history that he links in parallel with the five ages of canonical Andean history—«separate but equal trajectories that diverge with Noah and reintersect not with Columbus but with Saint Bartholomew, claimed to have preceded Columbus in the Americas. in a couple of hundred pages, Guaman Poma constructs a veritable encyclopedia of Inca and pre— inca history, customs, laws, social forms, public offices, and dynastic lead» ers. The depictions resemble European manners and customs description, but also reproduce the meticulous detail with which knowledge in Inca society was stored on quipus and in the oral memories of elders. Guaman l’oma's New Chronicle is an instance of what I have proposed to call an in:toeflmugmp/lic text, by which I mean a text in which people un' clertake to describe themselves in ways that engage with representations others have made of them. Thus if ethnographic texts are those in which European metropolitan subjects represent to themselves their others (usu' ally their conquered others), autoethnographic texts are representations that the sir—defined others construct in response to or in dialogue with those , vawWWWvu-m 520 lVlARY Li )u isi-i l’RA rr ELDRiM semi/mo :2 VA » "-1! .-r“”~‘ . ,M . X 4". Figure 1. Adam and live. texts. Autoethnographic texts are not, then, what are usually thought of as autochthonous forms of expression or self~representation (as the Andean quipus were). Rather they involve a selective collaboration with and ap— propriation of idioms of the metropolis or the conqueror. These are merged or infiltrated to varying degrees with indigenous idioms to create self~representations intended to intervene in metropolitan modes of uno derstanding. A utoethnographic works are often addressed to both metro» politan audiences and the speaker’s own community. l‘heir reception is thus highly indeterminate. Such texts often constitute a marginalized group’s point of entry into the dominant circuits of print culture. it is in- teresting to think, for example, of American slave autobiography in its autoethnographic dimensions, which in some respects distinguish it from liuramerican autobiographical tradition. The concept might help explain why some of the earliest published writing by Chicanas took the form of folkloric manners and customs sketches written in English and published in English~language newspapers or folklore magazines (see 'l‘revifio), Autoethnographic representation often involves concrete Collaborations between people...
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