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Culture 2 Essay, Research Paper

In the Arts of the Contact Zone, Mary Louise Pratt has tried to explain the concepts of the contact zone , which she referred to as the space of colonial encounters . This social space that she speaks about is a stage where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination . Pratt aims to highlight these relations between the colonizer and the colonized in terms of copresence, interaction, interlocking understandings and practices . There often are conflicts of views and ideas; the very concept of existence maybe apprehended differently by the two involved subjects in the contact zone .The inability of the colonizer to comprehend the cultural sentiments or the intentional ignorance for selfish interests, towards the colonized subjects has often given rise to great revolutions and bitter revolts. To illustrate this idea, one might examine the colonial encounter between the British and the Indians.

The contact of two races so dissimlar in character, in culture, and institutions, as the English and the Indian, raises the problem of the contact of cultures in its most acute forms (Spear, 22). The problem in India was complicated by numerous factors. The strangeness of the environment, the differences in the national character of the two groups and the differences in the social and political institutions, were the few that played an important part. The English found the eastern environment very unusual. Their habits of daily life, their deit, dress, amusements, and all other social interests, recreations and amenities of life were completely foreign and had nothing to do with those of the Indians. Britain, at the time, was a growing nation in possession of the techniques, organization, and energy which would enable her to become a world power. She was in the midst of a political, social and economical transformation. Britain s transformation was of great importance to the development of new attitudes towards India.

The designs of the English became more imperial and their attitude more haughty and aloof (George,44). The social gulf that existed between the diplomatic pundits and the English scholars began to widen. The attitude of the average Englishman changed from one of disapproval of Hindu superstitions and Mussalman bigotry and of philosophic and cultural interest in Hindu mythology, and of historical curiosity in Moguhal domination; into one of contempt for an inferior and conquered people (George, 44). The English had developed from the pettifogging traders quarreling over their seats in church, to imperial swashbucklers and large scale extortionists (Spear, 23). The British no longer relished the ways of commerce; their appetites , instead were whetted by conquest and prospects of plunder.

With the death of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzib, saw the disintegration of the Mughal Empire. This left the country in a situation of political unrest and uncertainty. The British had an image of themselves as to be constitutional people and felt that they had every right to the country. They thought Indians were benighted heathen who must be saved from themselves. Hence, capitalizing on the situation in India, the British plunged into battle, and emerged victorious. Thus, established British rule over the state of India and its territories.


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