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Antokoletz, J.C. (1994). Cross-Cultural Passages. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(3):279-280.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(3):279-280


Cross-Cultural Passages

Juana Canabal Antokoletz, Ph.D.

To the Editor:

In his reply to my paper on cross-cultural passages (this journal, 53: 35-54, 1993), Kaminsky (this journal, 53: 103-108, 1993) praises my clinical work but labels my theoretical model as “assimilationist,” a contradiction he attributes to the current gap between our theoretical constructs and clinical practice. Kaminsky's use of this term is inaccurate and therefore misleading. The focus of my paper was the changes in a person's internal world, the internal cultural transformation, not assimilation, that can be measured by statistical and behavioral criteria. Assimilation refers to the social, economic, and political integration of an immigrant or ethnic minority group member into mainstream society and involves his or her ability to participate in and have the same opportunity of access to education, income, occupation, political power, and social situations as does a person from the mainstream group (Keefe and Padilla, 1987). Within these parameters, it seems futile to argue that assimilation is not a desirable goal in a humanistic, democratic society.

Kaminsky's use of the term assimilationist is linked to the “Anglo-conformity” theory of social change, which demanded the renunciation of the immigrant's native culture and often included an underlying notion of “Aryan superiority” (Gordon, 1964). Nothing could be farther from the way I conceptualize my work and my own personal journey as a participant-observer immigrant.

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