Meaning of Syncretism

What is Syncretism:

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’.

In this sense, the concept of syncretism has been used by cultural anthropology to refer to the process by which two different traditions that are forced, by some historical circumstance, to live together for a long period of time, experience 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

Religious syncretism is the product of the 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, being that accommodation is the state of consciousness of the culture of the other, and assimilation supposes the fusion of both traditions in order to generate a new one, different from the previous ones.

Cultural syncretism

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

See also Transculturation.

The most palpable example of cultural syncretism is Latin America, more specifically the nations inheriting the dominance of Portugal and Spain, where there was a long process of crossbreeding and cultural fusion.

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