Sample Essay on Cultural Syncretism

Cultural Syncretism


The merging of different cultures in the process of integration of traditional features of native culture with unique or new features of the introduced culture to create new beliefs and traditions is known as cultural syncretism. The process often occurs when different countries seek to explore other countries, which ensures the integration of native and foreign cultures (Balme, 1999).

The concept mainly denotes the integration of contesting political and religious doctrines often attribute to specific rituals that ultimately get accepted as the common aspects of local practices. Therefore, it acts as a process and a hinges definition presenting inappropriately intertwined cultural and religious categories that tend to be alienated to each other.

The idea therefore defines the extensive imposition of a foreign culture to an existing one via the introduction of foreign beliefs and practices. This attributes to the development of politicized cultural approach or topography only describing a prevailing cultural condition without explaining the processes under which the condition occurred (Serge, 1998).

Cultural syncretism in Africa and America versus China and India

It is clear that significant similarities and differences in the way the idea of concept of cultural syncretism occurred in the west and in Asian nations. It is also clear that India and China were faced by same aspects that enhanced syncretism in America and Africa as similar episodes included integration different cultural orientation growing from different races that resided within cultures already existed.

According to Balme (1999), diverse communities particularly from the African origin that had clear social and cultural practices in resided in the culture of America. Conversely India and America had been invaded by foreign communities and had clear cultural practices that could be in diluted nature practices to create new ones (Stewart, 1994).

The growth of Shang dynasty led to the creation of creating different cities in Chinese territory that allowed foreign
societies with defined religious and cultural practices to reside within the country. The communities had also been particularly retained cohesive relationship that enabled them to share various wide range cultural practices that helped them to fight barbarians that existed in the region (Serge, 1998).

India was also invaded by foreign societies leading to the growth of distinct cultural orientation that could impact native Indian culture. The growth of Aryans in the Indian Territory also led to the introduction of unique dialects that were closely related to European languages and new religious beliefs that led to the introduction of books relating to the new religion (Stewart, 1994).

The West and Asian countries territory invasion also touched the political field leading to the modification of leadership systems that had discriminatory authorities. The political system of the USA for instance included the incorporation of various African races that were largely segregated in the political arena.

The African Americans on the same note were also not permitted to vote or engage in political activities on an equal footing as the Americans. China and India conversely were characterized by divided authorities that included high class communities on top of their bureaucratic systems as well as poor populations including outcasts in the society who occupied the bottom hierarchy (Yacob, 1995).

It is also evident that the effect of invasions was clear because cultural influences in the American territory were accepted easily compared to that of Asian countries. The availability of different societies with unique cultural practices also offered room for the introduction of unique music styles that signified the new American society. The religious culture additionally included new practices from various communities living in the region and it created a cohesive society that preached same beliefs.

However, such developments were non-achievable within Asian nations because they resisted any cultural and religious practices that could be accepted in the society. Different factors also generated the differences including religious beliefs as well as societal structures. Amongst unique features that can be connected to the differences were spiritual orientations that some cultures had because they could determine the level at which foreign practices would be incorporated into the existing culture.

For example, Indians believed in preaching enlightenment spirit via the use of main native scriptures making it hard to incorporate spiritual teachings that originated from other cultures (Serge, 1998).

China also had a unique religious system that had been held for a long time. All religions within the region strongly Proofreading-Editingbelieved in peaceful coexistence making it hard for other religious cultures that were bound to disintegrate the people to be accepted in the country. Christianity which included the main religion in American society also had formal structures that could pave way for integration of new cultural settings.

Existing religions within the Indian and Chinese territories even so did not have any formal structure and as a result, they could not allow for any changes in their cultural setup to take place within their religious systems (Yacob, 1995). The unique nature and level at which different cultures were incorporated in the west and the two Asian countries also left a significant affect that is still common in modern day societies.

The modern day American Christian legacy according to Stewart, relates to the way in which they invaded foreign nations thus influencing the communities that strongly believed in idolatry. The other important legacy that has since remained by orientations differences towards cultural change is that which appears to be common faith betrayal in one culture appearing to be some form of appropriation in another culture. This further explains why modern day society religions appear to object what others consider to be comfortable to them (Balme, 1999).

However, it is obvious that modern day American society would be completely different in the process of Cultural syncretism that takes place in the region. According to Steward (1994), the political culture of the US would be very discriminative as the government would be divided into Black Americans, having a separate governance system and White Americans with their unique system on the other hand.

Unlike the government system that is prevailing in Modern day American society, the political culture of the US would be characterized by conflicting racial politics that would also be sidelined discriminatively by each group of individual on racial grounds (Yacob, 1995). It is also notable that the music system in America could not be the way it is in the event of cultural syncretism if it did not occur.

While various cultures integrate their orientations to create a clear and advanced music system, each society would be struggling for dominance in the music arena while challenging music styles would also exist (Stewart, 1994). This kind of disintegration would in the end affect the advancement level of each style because they would have a small part of the audience challenging and supporting its advancement or growth.

While it is also clear that a specific resistance level to cultural change displayed syncretism to take root in early encounters that existed in China and India, cultural orientations would be quite different from the way they are in modern day of syncretism did not impact at the time.

The two nations according to Serge (1998) would have a structured religious unit if their sacred texts would be given a chance to undergo interpretations as well as translations characterized with clear religious traditions. However, this was not the case in different religious orientations that existed thus, explaining the reason as to why they have been quite tenacious and resilient to be in a position to expand and grow.

Religious orientations in India and China also focus on work as part of their religious orientation in that dedication to work defines the deeds of each and every individual and needs to be rewarded positively.

The effect of including syncretism at an early stage would also be clear as smaller communities that do not belief in cultural work emerge in the end. This would also reduce the productivity of a person as he or she would be resistant to work and led to trade commercialization (Balme¸1999).


It is clear that the effect of cultural syncretism was rampant in China, India and America as foreign cultures incorporated part of their practices into their already existing cultures. Even though the syncretism effect occurred within the American territory at an early age in history, this was not the case in China and India as many factors included religious beliefs, social structures, economic orientations and political systems that could not enhance assimilation effect of different cultural practices.

This further explains the reason as to why cultural practices could be incorporated easily within the American territory yet it could not be realized in the two Asian nations.

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Balme, C. (1999). Decolonizing the Stage: Theatrical Syncretism and Post-Colonial Drama, Oxford, Clarend on Press.

Serge, M. (1998). Cultural Diversity, Pedagogy, Assessment Strategies, The Journal of Negro Education, 67(3): 65-80.

Stewart, C. (1994). Syncretism/Anti-Syncretism: The Politics of Religious Synthesis, London, Routledge.

Yacob, T. (1995). Ecumenism, Culture and Syncretism, International Review of Mission, 84(3): 78-99.