Transculturation in Palestinians’ Lives There are so many different texts that are out there. People from different cultures and communities write texts that we usually do not take seriously. We do not want to see their point of view about things. We just want them to understand our point of view. “States” by Edward Said is a transcultural text. A contact zone is the space in which transculturation takes place. Mary Pratt defines “Transculturation is a process whereby members of subordinated or marginal groups select and invent from materials transmitted by a dominant metropolitan culture” (323).
Palestinians are surrounded by dominant cultures. Pratt uses “transcultural” to describe the dominant groups or cultures because there are so many groups and cultures that are dominant in this world. We have to develop ways of understanding and valuing other people’s writings, so we can be able to solve the problems they are presenting before us. It is important we all work together as a community because we become a community that is “strongly utopian”. The purpose of Said writing this story is to represent people who can’t be represented, for example the Palestinians. He wants to tell the Palestinians story to the world.
He wants to change the way people view the Palestinians. It is important for him to tell the story to world, so the world can treat the Palestinians in the right way. They will be treated as anyone will be treated. Said says, “You travel, from one end of the Arab world to the other, in Europe, Africa, the Americas, Australia, and there you find Palestinians like yourself who, like yourself, are subject to special laws, a special status, the markings of a force and violence not yours” (542). The world has created laws that make it hard for Palestinians to travel from one country to another.
They even have cards that identify them. They are refugees in every county except Palestine which is their home. That’s where they grew up but most of them do not live there because of disputes that happened. It is so amazing how the generation of Palestinian children do not know their history. They are always living in fear in other countries because they live there but they are not welcomed. This is because they are considered terrorists. People are afraid of them. The fact is that not every Palestinian is a terrorists. But because one person is terrorist, everyone else is also a terrorist.
It is the instinct that hu have. Edward Said presents the photographs in States in so many different ways. Said first introduces the photo. He describes what is going on in the photo in a very detailed way. Said describes the photos as if he was there. He is the one who took the photo and now he is trying to put all the pieces together. For example in the first photo, he mostly focuses on the car and leaves out the children in the background and the building behind the wedding people. I think he isolates the car because he want to make a point how the Palestinians are isolated from the rest of the world.
He tries to describe every detail about the photos. Said says, “It has become what horse, mule, and camel were, and then much more” (541). The Mercedes is described in so much detail that you will be able to picture every small detail in your head. Said describes mostly how he feels and what he thinks about the photo, so I don’t think he completely explains what really happens or what’s going on in the photos. He says that the Mercedes is used in funerals, weddings, births, proud display, leaving home, coming home, fixing, stealing, reselling, running away in, and hiding in.
The Palestinians are so insecure that they view the Mercedes as an intruder. The photo was taken outside a refugee camp, and after a few months, the camp was ravaged by the intraPalestinian fighting. They destroyed everything. The Palestinians refugees feel like they have no place to go. Everywhere and every country they go to, they feel like outsiders. What I mean by this is that the Palestinians are made to feel like outsiders. They don’t belong there. It is like their identities have been stripped away. Everywhere they are except Palestine, they have cards that identify them.
Even though of the trauma that the Palestinians have gone through, they still hold on to their culture and important family things. That’s the pieces that are left that they have as a culture that gives them hope. It is important for the readers to understand what Said is trying to say and what point he is trying to get through to the readers. Everyone who reads what Said wrote will understand it in a different way than another person. Some people might find it easier to understand and others might find it hard to understand and not be able to get what Said is trying to say.
For example, in some of the pictures, they do not march the descriptions. Said’s writing is so different. First, he starts by describing the pictures using facts and then, he gives an explaining of how he feels about the photo like he directly taking to the reader. I think he writes like this because it makes it easier for the reader to relate to what Said thinks and feels. Said want the story to be first and then the pictures second. They are not just pictures to him but something that means a lot to him like a masterpiece. I think that you can tell what’s mostly going on with the pictures without even looking at Said’s pictures.
For me, the understanding for just looking at the pictures is easier than reading Said’s description of the pictures. It is something the readers that will never be able to understand unless, he the writer explains to us the purpose of him choosing the pictures and writing a description even without taking the pictures himself. In the second photo, Said describes the woman and the man. They are two different photos, but they have some similarities which is the carpet. He describes how the lines on the wall are supposed to be decorations but instead, it is a bad reminder to the Palestinians that they are inside a box.
For example, the man sitting on the chair; he is leaning forward, his arms rested on the arms of the chair, and nervous. I think that he is uncomfortable and is about to stand up and leave the place. It doesn’t feel like home to them at all. Taking the pictures means nothing. Said explains that the photos are largely unexplained Said states that, “Images that are largely unexplained, nameless, mute” (243). The idea is that without describing the photos, they have no meaning at all and nobody will care because they are just photos taken. But if you look closer at the photo, it has more information than you think and it tells the past.
It is something that Palestinians help to because that is the only thing they have and is passed down to generations. Those things that are passed on, they identify them as their identity. That is the only thing that ties to them because everything they had, had been destroyed and they have been stripped of their identity. That is the only thing that gives them hope that they still exist. They are not just strangers in another country. Said tries to explore topics so he can be able to explain everything that is important is depth and help us understand the situation.
He explains it in a way that the reader can put themselves in the writer’s shoes. Palestinians have so little opportunities, and they have the world closing on them. It is like they have a feeling that they can’t be able to breath. People are mixed together and learning together. They are all in different ages. There are so many disagreements between students and teachers. Said states, “All of them looked exactly the same as we hurtled by. We never stopped. I never drove there again, nor can I now” (574). Said cannot grasp all the events that took place and also separated his family and culture.
It is difficult for him to go back because he is afraid to see what is left of his culture. The albums, rosary beads, shawls, and little boxes are passed on hold more memories than anything. Even though this objects bring bad memories to them, they do no hold any bitterness. For example, his dad hid the photos from him because they brought bad memories but his dad held on to the photos because that’s the only thing he had left of his family because they were forced away from their home and they have nothing to go back to. Those things are like treasures to them. It is a piece of them.
In conclusion, “States” is a transcultural text. In his “States” Edward Said writes about the “alienated” Palestinians. This story is an example of Pratt’s definition of a transcultural text. There are so many pieces that can be put together in States to Pratt’s ideas to form the transcultural text. The text from States can be used to help us better understand what a transcultural text is because it has new pieces of information, and it mostly relates to today’s world. I think that if we understand the story “States” as a transcultural text, we will be able to apply that to other stories which makes it easier to understand.
Palestinians’ situation can mostly be understood through Pratt’s definition of contact zone. Said goes beyond what Pratt defines as a community. Pratt defines community as strongly utopian, but that is not what Said sees. The Palestinians do not have a “strongly utopian” community. And also, Pratt defines the marginal group and dominant group which I applied to “States. ” Palestinians are in the marginal group because they are getting represented by Said who is in the dominant group. Mary Pratt would consider “States” a transcultural text.