Cultural Syncretism

1599 Words Nov 11th, 2011 7 Pages
Cultural Syncretism

The concept of cultural syncretism exists when two different cultures combine their ancient beliefs of the past to create new traditions and/or beliefs. There are several cultural factors that influenced both Africa and the Americas such as weaponry, technological advancements, medical and religious. China and India’s values were quite different when it came to cultural beliefs. They would isolate themselves from outside traditions, which made them more resistant to syncretism.

Cultural Syncretism
Syncretism is the process by which cultures are merged, generally between traditional culture and traits of an introduced culture. This process was especially pronounced in the Americas with the introduction of
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The Mayan civilization derived from a massive empire that covered Mesoamerica from modern-day Mexico in the north into El Salvador. While the Mayan culture has remained prominent in isolated pockets in some areas of Mexico and Guatemala, in general the culture was extremely integrated into the colonial culture of the Spaniards, rather than being lost through a process of acculturation. Spanish legislative policies towards the indigenous Mayans were lenient and allowed them to keep their language and customs for the most part. The encomienda estate system in the Americas relocated the natives to allow them to work on the Spanish estates, where they were taught English as their primary language, as well as conversion to Christianity (Shuman, 1999). Religion was one of the few areas where the Spanish actually forbade native practices, forcing Christianity on the Mayans. Rather than replacing the native beliefs, the gods were merged together into the personhood of the Catholic Saints. This overt religious practice appeared to the Spanish as colonial, while still retaining the traditional meaning for the Mayan peoples (O’Neil, 2009). The impact of colonization within Native American tribes of North America was much more pronounced than the syncretism in South America, with many British colonial policies essentially obliterating some aspects of Native
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