Embracing the Other: Illusions of Access
Composition and rhetoric scholarship increasingly promotes creating what Pratt calls "contact zones," where others — whose social, cultural, and discursive subjectivities differ from those privileged by the dominant culture — can be recognized and heard. However, frequently it is the members of the dominant culture who author these spaces and thus maintain power. Such spaces often include images which seem to promote an understanding or appreciation of others by depicting their cultural artifacts in ways that appear to be "authentic". Postmodern rhetorical analyses of such images reveals that while "authentic representations" result in implied access into the dominant society, in actuality, this is what de Certeau calls "a narrated reality". He argues, "to cite the other on their behalf is hence to make credible the simulacra produced in a particular place". Employing a framework structured around the work of scholars such as de Certeau, Pratt, and Baudrillard, I will critique images of Others proliferated by the dominant culture to argue that, although "authenticity" implies access, shared agency is an illusion. The result, then, is an "access issue" that has implications for our literate practices in an era increasingly defined by globalization and the reproduction of difference.
Keywords: Representation, Others, Authentic, Images
Dr. Georganne Nordstrom
Ph. D. Candidate, Department of English, University of Hawaii at Manoa