07 May 2005

A policy of "assimilation"

In an earlier post (see The Stolen Generation), I had referred to a policy of “assimilation” while commenting on the systematic removal, by the Australian government, of Aboriginal children from their black mothers.

Perhaps in not so serious a manner (though this thought may need further investigation), the policy of assimilation carries the trademark of colonisation. And since I’m an Indian, I feel it has a direct bearing on my cultural history. After all, haven’t my forefathers fought against this very concept for two hundred years under the British Rule? How can I escape from “assimilation” when I’m a derivative of this process!

I came upon an article, “Colonial Education” by John Southard from Emory University (Fall 1997), which explains this concept rather well: “The idea of assimilation is important when dealing with colonial education. Assimilation involves those who are colonized being forced to conform to the cultures and traditions of the colonizers.” Simply put, in the process of colonisation, the colonising nation implements its own form of schooling within its colonies.

Mr Southard goes on to say, “Colonizing governments realize that they gain strength not necessarily through physical control, but through mental control. This mental control is implemented through a central intellectual location, the school system.” The article also alerted me to an early nineteenth century speech by Thomas B. Macaulay on British India, which Mr Southard says is “The ultimate goal of colonial education.”

Here’s a brief portion of that speech by Macaulay (as quoted by Mr Southard): “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.”

Mr Southard says, “While all colonizers may not share Macaulay's lack of respect for the existing systems of the colonized, they do share the idea that education is important in facilitating the assimilation process.” Perhaps you’re right Mr Southard, but for me, Macaulay’s words are distressing enough.

1 comment:

Sayantan said...

what category would the african american population come under? And what effects would have been caused due to forced relocation to a far away place? I am not not well read on this topic, but do remember a book, Black Ivory (i think), which deals with this topic. what do you say?