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.
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 colonial culture with the colonization of both North and South America. Although the African and Latin America cultures blended, both India and China resisted the Western culture. Africa and Cultural Syncretism
As the Europeans expanded to and explored new regions, they introduced religion, technology, customs, weapons and medicine. These alone could have a great impact on existing cultures, although after military force was added to the syncretism, it became largely one sided. Although a large part of African culture derived from the European’s language, religion, and customs, only some of the African cultures and rituals were adapted by the Europeans. The Africans were able to benefit from a technological aspect from this exchange of cultures with more advanced weapons, medicine and agriculture (Sayre, 2010). In the Americas, the Europeans had much the same effect on the culture. The methodology and technology made it easier for the Europeans to adapt their culture to the natives of the Americas as they were more accepting of the change (Sayre, 2010). The Chinese were less influenced and resisted the cultural changes of outsiders, mainly because their culture was older and more advanced technologically then the west. The Chinese also secluded themselves from many outside sources. China, as well as India, had different values when it came to things such as; family, diet, life and death, as well as gender roles. Their differences in religions and ideology were the largest factor for resistance to western influence, although India finally succumbed to the British syncretism during the British Conquest of India. Legacies of Cultural Change
Africa shared several legacies with the Western world, such as; slavery, religion, music and dance. Slavery was one of the most significant influences between Africa and the Western culture. Millions of Africans were shipped over to the Americas by the Portuguese and traded as slaves to work on sugar plantations in Brazil (Sayre, 2010). As slaves were brought to the Americas they brought with them their ancestry religion of spirits and rituals known as “vodoun” or “voodoo” (Sanchez, & Kirby, n.d.). The slaves used these religious rituals as a way to resist domination of their owners. African thought and creativity played a large part in cultural practices which had an influence on both language and arts. The African culture was passed down in their music as well. Villagers of Mexico’s southwest coast still sing about their ancestral desires of freedom and dignity in songs known as “corridos”. These songs are reflections of tragedy, romance and social turmoil passed on from African ancestors who were sold as slaves. During Holy Week the popular “Dance of the Devil” is performed by dancers wearing masks to symbolize the influence of their African heritage (Moutiel, n.d.). Difference in Modern Culture without Syncretism
Two major illustrations of how cultural syncretism took place are in the Spanish conquest of the Incan empire and the British colonization of New England. If this cultural change had not occurred with relatively little resistance, modern culture might be significantly different with considerably more indigenous traits having...
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