multicultural Hot Words

Making multicultural Australia

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Hotword: Assimilation...




Assimilation was a popular idea from the early 20th century, used to describe the process for making minorities the same as majorities.

What makes it hot?

It is a hotword in two directions. For “minorities”, it means their culture has to be abandoned and they have to change themselves to fit someone else's idea of what normal people are like. For “majorities”, it means that newcomers and cultural outsiders make a “choice” about being here, and that choice means they should try to fit in and not offend or frighten the longer term residents. Assimilation is thus the sharp point between cultures. One side means the victory of the majority, the other the cultural survival of the minority.

Assimilation was the official policy towards Indigenous people and to immigrants in Australia up till the 1960s, when the International Convention to Eradicate All Forms of Racial Discrimination was signed by Australia. After that, Indigenous policy moved towards “self-determination”, and immigration policy to “integration” (the first generation keeps its culture), and then to multiculturalism (numerous cultures in one society).

Date Added:

16 May 2002