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The purpose of this work is to set up a dichotomy between trends of Nationalism and Assimilation, using the post Diaspora Armenian population as a sample. Armenian-American youth is the

The purpose of this work is to set up a dichotomy between trends of Nationalism and Assimilation, using the post Diaspora Armenian population as a sample. Armenian-American youth is the focus of study, as they are said to be in the unique position of having one foot in each door as far as cultures are concerned. The paper uses micro level survey data on young Armenians combined with macro level social trends in densely Armenian diaspora areas such as the San Fernando Valley, to find trends in recent rates of cultural integration. One of the major distinctions made is between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘symbolic’. The first is a more authentic grasp of one’s heritage, but is argued to be nearly impossible to maintain when moving to a dominant culture. The second is inheritable and teachable to children by rote, but only provides a shell of cultural artifacts. Dr. Bakalian summarizes the sentiment in the contrast of ‘being’ vs. ‘feeling’. Nationalism in moderation can contribute to maintaining ancestry and contribute to worldwide diversity. Nationalism in excess can lead to xenophobia and isolationism. Assimilation in moderation can allow for a certain group to learn and borrow the best parts from another nation. Assimilation in excess can breed resentment and the eventual loss or total symbolization of a once rich culture. In a country like the U.S. which assimilates through benign osmosis rather than oppression, it is difficult to make any conclusive recommendation which would teach something that arguably cannot be taught. Perhaps the best we can do is to push for teaching symbolic culture to inspire travel back to a ‘motherland’ to spark traditional values.

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  • 2016-05

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