A CONTACT ZONE (A STORY FROM AN ENGLISH LITERATURE CLASSROOM IN PADANG)

Desvalini Anwar

Abstract


This article explores my role as an English literature teacher working within the globalizing pressures of the Western knowledge invested in the IR 4.0. It partially takes the form of an autobiographical narrative in which I reconstruct moments that have shaped my professional identity. I apply storytelling not only as a way to speak back‘ to the hierarchical structure of power perpetuated in English (Ashcroft, Griffiths & Tiffin, 1989; Parr, 2010) but also a way to speak back to my own habitual practices as a teacher in a university in Padang. Switching between English, Bahasa Indonesia and Minang, my account reveals my efforts to give meaning to my work. It concerns, rather, how English constitutes our worldproviding us with a heightened awareness of language in the contact zone‘ (Pratt, 1991), where we can use language without being ruthlessly subject to it. This has meant negotiating a pathway between the imperialist baggage of English, the nationalist project of Bahasa Indonesia, and the values of community and belonging associated with Minang language. Rather than offering a conclusion, my story remains open, revealing my continuous attempts to allow the young people in my care to understand themselves- who they are and who they will become?
Keywords: autobiographical narrative, a contact zone, storytelling, to speak back


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