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Syncretism as a Cultural Movement in the Americas

Modern families in the United States and many other countries have uncommon blends of cultures, beliefs, and traditions, most of which appeared due to the past’s syncretistic occasions. Colonization forced people of different backgrounds to meet and combine their views, thus now, for example, American traditions include Christian and native celebrations (Shaw, 2018). This essay aims to discuss syncretism as a cultural movement and explore how the Americas apply it while influencing the other countries today.

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Colonization became a valuable chapter of history for North and South America. The territories of the United States have been occupied by the British, while the South coast has been regulated by European counties such as Spain, France, and Portugal (Gone, 2019). The demand in the working force for minings and manufacturers of the New World forced the colonization to move the Africans to the discovered lands and simultaneously subjugate the Native Americans (Gone, 2019). The cultural blending appeared and changed the core life spheres such as beliefs, social standards, and languages.

Every African who reached the new land had their own beliefs that alter after being put to entirely different life conditions. Scientists tend to discuss syncretism in religious contexts, and it is defined as the combination of various forms of beliefs. However, faith has a vast influence on a nation’s culture, thus the term can be analyzed through people’s traditions and cultural values. Syncretism impacted the development of American societies, and several factors can prove it. Firstly, although Christianity is the leading religion among the Americas’ nations, it is blended with native beliefs and traditions of the Native Indians and African Americans. For example, The Yurok Indian tribe has more than 6 thousand representatives, and their culture still includes both Christian and Indian religious celebrations (Sigalow, 2016). Secondly, most nations’ traditions allow multicultural and interfaith marriage, thus modern families have syncretic roots, beliefs, and appearances. Lastly, the value of diversity praised in the contemporary United States highlights the importance of the multiple cultures’ synergy to its improvement in all of its institutions.

Great Britain colonized North America, and the English culture blended with the native traditions of the region. The Indigenous tribes were forcefully damaged, and the Africans were delivered there as slaves, therefore the syncretism in these regions was involuntary (Shaw, 2018). Traditions kept by the natives remained in the lives of colonized, while the slaves brought their customs to save their homeland’s memory. However, the blended cultures developed a strong resistance, and the educational and governmental approaches from England helped the colonized gain power to establish an independent country.

Southern American countries such as Argentina and Brazil have been occupied by Spain and Portugal, therefore the European culture impacted the tribes among the beliefs of Africans transferred as a workforce. Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese, and its history begins from April 22, 1500, when Pedro Alvares Cabral reached the country’s lands (Hill, 2017). Throughout the colonial period, the culture became so diverse that the identification as “Brazilian” could not be clarified until the nineteenth century (Hill, 2017). Syncretism was the crucial factor of the culture’s becoming because of the high diversity among immigrants, slaves, and native inhabitants.

North and Southern coasts of the Americas demonstrate strong and diverse cultures in the present. The syncretic blend of the cultures can be witnessed in various people’s traditions, beliefs, moral and social values. Many families have progenitors from opposite groups like slaves and occupants, they keep and praise the customs of both. Although colonization is damaging for the occupied nations, its outputs are a healthier society, traditions, and religions (Shaw, 2018). The modern United States culture allows the tribes to exist, respects diversity, and plays a significant role in globalization. Moreover, nowadays, the United States of America applies occupational strategies in the lands like the Middle East and influences their cultures.

The United States built a strong economy and enforced it through external manufacturing facilities and minings. The approach of setting up production in a country rich in demanded resources is similar to one under that history understands colonization (Sigalow, 2016). An example of such occupation is the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003 and made the former the owner of oil mining in the country (Blesch, 2020). American manufacturers and military forces moved to Iraq, and the cultural impact can already be noticed in citizens’ daily lives. People started learning English, getting jobs in the United States, and establishing communities the way the Americans do (Blesch, 2020). However, the leading religion in Iraq is Islam, and it denies any syncretic intervention.

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Colonization formed multiple countries worldwide, and such interventions affected all of the life spheres of the occupied lands’ inhabitants. The Americas’ history is a bright example of how the syncretism of different traditions and beliefs can create a unique culture and bring diversity to people’s lives. The cultural blending outcomes can be noticed in the growing globalization and the changes in racial perception.


Blesch, W. (2020). Understanding Iraq Today. Mitchell Lane.

Gone, J. P. (2019). “The thing happened as he wished”: Recovering an American Indian cultural psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology, 64(1-2), 172-184. Web.

Hill, R. (2017). From neophyte to non-white: Moral theology and race mixture in colonial Brazil. Journal of Early Modern Christianity, 4(2), 167. Web.

Shaw, R. D. (2018). Beyond syncretism: A dynamic approach to hybridity. International Bulletin of Mission Research, 42(1), 6-19. Web.

Sigalow, E. (2016). Towards a sociological framework of religious syncretism in the United States. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 84(4), 1029-1055. Web.

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