Rethinking acculturation in relation to diasporic cultures and postcolonial identities

Document Type



Published in: Human Development, vol. 44, 2001.


In this article, we reexamine the concept of ‘acculturation’ in cross-cultural psychology, especially with respect to non-western, non-European immigrants living in the United States. By drawing primarily on postcolonial scholarship, we specifically reconsider the universalist assumption in cross-cultural psychology that all immigrant groups undergo the same kind of ‘psychological’ acculturation process. In so doing, (1) we consider some of the historical and political events related to immigration in the United States; (2) we question the conflation of nation with culture that emerges in many theories of acculturation; (3) we use the notion of diaspora as theorized in postcolonial studies to rethink the concept of ‘integration strategy’ as developed in cross-cultural psychology. Our article has implications for general issues of culture and self in human development, and particular issues in the area of acculturation.