Hope in the Contact Zone: A Resource for Cultural Dialogue and Reconciliation

By Peter Bishop.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The concept of the contact zone, as formulated by Marie Louise Pratt, describes social spaces where different cultures meet and engage, generally in very uneven relations of power. However, she suggests that contact zones can also be de-colonialising spaces where new possibilities are formulated for a different, better future. Within such spaces some kind of hope is essential.
In recent years the notion of hope has been the focus of considerable attention by scholars from a wide range of disciplines, yet the role of hope in a contact zone has received little, if any, attention. This paper explores contact zones where diverse, multiple hopes, from western and non-western cultures, encounter each other. In particular it draws on the struggle for reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, plus attempts at dialogue between western cultures and the Tibetan Diaspora as it seeks reconciliation with China.
While a sense of hope can be shared across differing cultures, it can also be highly specific to them. Different goals for hope can circulate through a contact zone, and also differing visions and modalities of hope as western and non-western cultures struggle to attain some kind of mutual imaginary. Such situations suggest challenges for post-Enlightenment systems of knowledge and imagination, which have often dominated contact with other traditions.

Keywords: Hope, Contact Zone, Reconciliation, Tibetan Diaspora, Indigenous Australians, Intercultural Dialogue, Postcolonial, Utopian Imagination

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp.205-218. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 774.291KB).

Prof. Peter Bishop

Associate Professor, School of Communication, International Studies & Languages, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Peter Bishop is Associate Professor in the School of Communication, International Studies & Languages at the University of South Australia and is the author of five books: The Myth of Shangri-la: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred Landscape (1989); The Greening of Psychology: the Vegetable World in Myth, Dream & Healing (1991); Dreams of Power: Tibetan Buddhism & the Western Imagination (1993); An Archetypal Constable: National Identity & the Geography of Nostalgia (1995); Bridge (2008); and as a co-author, Hope: the everyday and imaginary life of young people on the margins (2010). He has been involved in numerous writing projects with visual and performing artists. His research over the past decade has focused around the topics of hope, reconciliation, post-colonialism, cosmopolitanism, the utopian imagination, promotion and media, travel writing and place.

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