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Forced assimilation

Forced assimilation is a process of cultural assimilation of religious or ethnic minority groups that is forced into an established and generally larger community. Also enforcement of a new language in legislation, education, literature, worshiping counts as forced assimilation. Unlike ethnic cleansing, the local population is not forced to leave a certain area. Instead the population becomes assimilated by force. It has often been used after an area has changed nationality, often in the aftermath of war. Some examples are both the German and French forced assimilation in the provinces Alsace and (at least a part of) Lorraine, and some decades after the Swedish conquests of the Danish provinces Scania, Blekinge and Halland the local population was submitted to forced assimilation.


Ethnic assimilationEdit

If a state puts extreme emphasis on a homogeneous national identity, it may resort, especially in the case of minorities originating from historical foes, to harsh, even extreme measures to 'exterminate' the minority culture, sometimes to the point of considering the only alternative its physical elimination (expulsion or even genocide).

States, mostly based on the idea of nation, perceived the presence of ethnic or linguistic minorities as a danger for their own territorial integrity. In fact minorities could claim their own independence, or to be rejoined with their own motherland. The consequence was the weakening or disappearing of several ethnic minorities. Forced migrations took place after each of the two world wars.

The latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century saw the rise of nationalism. Previously, a country consisted largely of whatever peoples lived on the land that was under the dominion of a particular ruler. Thus, as principalities and kingdoms grew through conquest and marriage, a ruler could wind up with peoples of many different ethnicities under his dominion. This also reflected the long history of migrations of different tribes and peoples through Europe.

The concept of nationalism was based on the idea of a "people" who shared a common bond through race, religion, language and culture. Furthermore, nationalism asserted that each "people" had a right to its own nation. Much of European history in the latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century can be understood as efforts to realign national boundaries with this concept of "one people, one nation". Such scenes also happened in Japan and Korea, as the two countries stated themselves as a single-nation country, ethnic minorities had to hide their national identity for centuries, and many resulted in assimilation, such as Ainu and Ryukyuan people in Japan, migrants of Goguryeo, Balhae and Tungusic peoples in Korea. Much conflict would arise when one nation asserted territorial rights to land outside its borders on the basis of a common bond with the people living on that land. (Example: organized territorial rights by Russia for Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia to North Ossetia) Another source of conflict arose when a group of people who constituted a minority in one nation would seek to secede from the nation either to form an independent nation or join another nation with whom they felt stronger ties. Yet another source of conflict was the desire of some nations to expel people from territory within its borders on the ground that those people did not share a common bond with the majority of people living in that nation.[specify][citation needed]

It is useful to contrast the mass migrations and forced expulsion of ethnic Germans out of Eastern Europe with other massive transfers of populations, such as exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, and population exchanges that occurred after the Partition of India. In all cases those expelled suffered greatly.[citation needed]

Religious assimilationEdit

Assimilation also includes the (often forced) conversion or secularization of religious members of a minority group.

Throughout the Middle Ages and until the mid-19th century, most Jews in Europe were forced to live in small towns (shtetls) and were restricted from entering universities or high-level professions. See also Christianity in Pakistan for contemporary issues.


When new immigrants enter a country, there is a tension as they adapt to new people and surroundings to fit in, while holding on to their original culture. Here, studies show that native inhabitants often expect assimilation especially from negatively viewed immigrants.[1][2] Moreover, assimilation pressure seems to be particularly pronounced toward the second generation of these immigrants.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Montreuil, Annie; Richard, Y. Bourhis Majority Acculturation Orientations Toward (2001). "Valued" and "Devalued" Immigrants". Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 32: 698–719. doi:10.1177/0022022101032006004.
  2. ^ Montreuil, Annie; Bourhis, Richard Y. (2004). "Acculturation orientations of competing host communities toward valued and devalued immigrants". International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 28 (6): 507–532. doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2005.01.002.
  3. ^ ""It's on Time That They Assimilate" – Differential acculturation expectations towards first and second generation immigrants". International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 39: 188–195. doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2013.10.007.