In the late nineteenth century the great European project of nation-building
was set in motion. It was meant to end in a Europe of unified nation-states,
each with its own language, history, traditions and a people undivided in its
loyalty. The local or ‘merely ethnic’ communities would be effaced, subsumed
into the homogeneous nation. Assimilation was the means whereby outsiders
would become insiders, strangers would become citizens.