These days, there is hardly a nation that avoided the world tendency for globalization and preserved its “pure” culture. The process of globalization is closely related to the term “syncretism”. According to Dave Miller (2003), “syncretism is the fusion of differing systems of belief, as opposed to remaining individualistic”.
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In other words, it is an attempt to unite several different cultures or studies. This term was generally related to religion, however, today, it is closely related to anthropology and different cultural studies. It is a characteristic feature of a country with a big inflow of immigrants from different countries of the world. One of such countries is the United States of America. It is the best example of how different cultures, religions and traditions create a single unity.
History and development of the country favored to a high level of syncretism in the country. However, if syncretism had not occurred in the Americas, modern culture could be different in several ways. First of all, it would interfere the development of the country and it could probably lead to the emergence of several independent states on the territory of the United States.
According to Charles Stuart (1999):
“Contemporary social theory has turned to focus on phenomena such as globalization, transnational nationalism, and the situation of Diaspora communities. The word syncretism has begun to appear alongside such related concepts as hybridization and creolization as a means of portraying the dynamics of global social development” (p. 40).
This tendency appeared in the Unites States from the very moment of its appearance, as it was a home for people from different countries and with different cultural backgrounds. Syncretism is a process that assists a successful development of the country and society. It is a positive process and suggests that all people with their moral, religion and spiritual believes are equal.
Inevitable, that syncretism may be regarded as a compromise among cultures. Moreover, it is a valuable symbiosis of these cultures that promote their mutually advantageous co-existence. So, “studies of New World syncretic phenomena by American anthropologists were colored by an optimism born in the heyday of America’s melting pot ideology” (Stewart and Shaw, 1994, p. 5).
What consequences there could be if cultural syncretism did not appear? And how might modern culture be different from what we have used to see nowadays? It is rather hard to imagine that there is no a “mutually advantageous co-existence of different cultures”. Moreover, taking into consideration the fact that syncretism deals with almost every aspect of modern life, it is quite impossible to avoid it.
At any rate, if it happens, there can be distressing results. First of all, it would be impossible for people from different countries to create families. Second, there could be constant regional conflict on the cultural basis. Third, the development of the country could cease or become much slower.
In addition, it would influence greatly on policy and law. Education would be much more difficult as there could appear misunderstanding and misconceptions. In general, it would bring much tension in the society and its structure. Finally, a cultural development of the society could be almost impossible.
Syncretism is a mixture of cultural and religious beliefs that promotes a successful development of the society. Failure to create it would influence greatly on the lives of people and their interaction. Lack of syncretism would bring much tension to society.
Miller, D. (2003). Pluralism, Multiculturalism, Syncretism, and America. Apologetics Press: Scripturally Speaking. Retrieved from http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=1260
Stewart, C. (1999). Syncretism and Its Synonyms: Reflections on Cultural Mixture. Diacritics. 29 (3), 40-62.
Stewart, C, and Shaw, R. (1994). Syncretism/anti-syncretism: the politics of religious synthesis. New York: Routledge.