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contact zone

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Mary Louise Pratt's term in Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992) for social places (understood geographically) and spaces (understood ethnographically) where disparate cultures meet and try to come to terms with each other. It is used quite widely in literary studies and Cultural Studies as well as Postcolonial Studies as a general term for places where white western travellers have encountered their cultural, ethnic, or racial other and been transformed by the experience. Contact zones are most often trading posts or border cities, cities where the movement of peoples and commodities brings about contact. See also creoleness; hybridity.

Subjects: Literature

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