Meaning of Syncretism

What is Syncretism:

What syncretism is called the process by which different cultural or religious expressions are reconciled or amalgamated to form a new tradition. The word, as such, comes from the Greek συγκρητισμός (synkretismós), which means ‘coalition of two adversaries against a third party’.

In this sense, the concept of syncretism has been employed by the cultural anthropology to refer to the process by which two different traditions that are forced, by some historical circumstance, to coexist for a prolonged period of time, undergo a gradual assimilation of the cultural elements of the other, resulting in a new and unique cultural expression formed from the mixture of both.

Religious syncretism

The religious syncretism is the product of union of two different religious traditions that are mutually assimilated, resulting in the birth of a new cult with elements and products of both. As such, religious syncretism is a process that occurs, slowly and spontaneously, when two religious traditions are forced to coexist harmoniously.

In this sense, the encounter between both traditions generates an initial clash that is resolved through a gradual process of accommodation and assimilation, since accommodation is the state of awareness of the culture of the other, and assimilation supposes the fusion of both traditions to generate a new one, different from the previous ones.

cultural syncretism

What cultural syncretism is known the process of miscegenation and transculturation that occurs from the union of different peoples, races, beliefs and cultural traditionsand which result in a new hybrid, mestizo cultural identity, with characteristics and elements typical of all the cultures that merged.

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See also Transculturation.

The most palpable example of cultural syncretism is Latin America, more specifically the nations inheriting the rule of Portugal and Spain, where a long process of miscegenation and cultural fusion took place.

See also Cultural miscegenation.