Navigating the “Contact Zone” in a Journey to Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean as a Site of Cultural Exchange

Navigating the “Contact Zone” in A Journey to Wales’s Fort in Hudson’s Bay to the Northern Ocean as a Site of Cultural Exchange

      In Canadian Literature, initial meetings between First Nations peoples and European explorers reveal to readers the establishment of the “contact zone”. Mary Louise Pratt defines the “contact zone” as:
      The space of colonial encounters, the space in which peoples geographically and historically separated come into contact with each other and establish ongoing relations, usually involving conditions of coercion, radical inequality, and intractable conflict. […] But while the latter term is grounded within a European expansionist perspective (the frontier is a frontier only with respect to Europe), “contact zone” is an attempt to invoke the spatial and temporal copresence of subjects previously separated by geographic and historical disjunctures, and whose trajectories now intersect. By using the term “contact” I aim to foreground the interactive, improvisational dimensions of colonial encounters so easily ignored or suppressed by diffusionist accounts of conquest and domination. A “contact” perspective emphasizes how subjects are constituted in and by their relations among colonizers and colonized […] not in terms of separateness or apartheid, but in terms of copresence, interaction, interlocking understandings and practices, often within radically asymmetrical relations of power (Pratt 6-7).
Rather than considering the contact zone as a place where cultural discourses war for supremacy and domination over one another, Pratt instead highlights how the colonizers and the colonized may come to a mutual understanding of each other within the contact zone. Samuel Hearne’s A Journey from Prince of Wales’s Fort in Hudson’s Bay to the Northern Ocean is an example of both concepts of Pratt’s definition of the contact zone. In an initial reading, Hearne’s narrative reveals his fervent desire to conquer the New World. To Hearne, the...