Cultural technology made it easier for the Europeans
Cultural Syncretism Abstract 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. Cultural SyncretismSyncretism 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 been incorporated into the European cultural traditions and beliefs. One example is represented in the way the Spanish colonial policy peacefully merged Mayan culture and languages into European colonial traditions, religion, and languages. The Mayan civilization derived from a massive empire that covered Mesoamerica from modern-day Mexico in the north into El Salvador.While the Mayan culture has remained prominent in isolated pockets in some areas of Mexico and Guatemala, in general the culture was extremely integrated into the colonial culture of the Spaniards, rather than being lost through a process of acculturation. Spanish legislative policies towards the indigenous Mayans were lenient and allowed them to keep their language and customs for the most part.
The encomienda estate system in the Americas relocated the natives to allow them to work on the Spanish estates, where they were taught English as their primary language, as well as conversion to Christianity (Shuman, 1999).Religion was one of the few areas where the Spanish actually forbade native practices, forcing Christianity on the Mayans. Rather than replacing the native beliefs, the gods were merged together into the personhood of the Catholic Saints. This overt religious practice appeared to the Spanish as colonial, while still retaining the traditional meaning for the Mayan peoples (O’Neil, 2009). The impact of colonization within Native American tribes of North America was much more pronounced than the syncretism in South America, with many British colonial policies essentially obliterating some aspects of Native American culture.Although the impact of European culture on the Native American way of life is great, there was a high degree of assimilation of these groups into “mainstream” culture which created a widespread loss of language and traditions. This is in contrast to the policies of Spanish conquest, where there was a much greater level of merging of cultures, or syncretism than was seen in the British colonies.
Cultural Syncretism in China and India China and India resisted the influence of cultural syncretism and preferred isolation over the Mongolian beliefs.There is no denying that when it came to the western advances toward China, there was immediate tension. During the 1700 and 1800’s when the west was trying to get China to open up to a world market, China was considered to be the largest Empire in the world as well as being under the Qing Empire rule. Both Britain and the Spaniards felt Emperor Qianlong was very arrogant and non-communicative to outside influence of western origin. The regime rule for over 150 years was that of total independence from the western world. They felt that there “was nothing hat we cannot support within our borders and that they considered westerners “barbarians” (India’s Encounter, n.
d. ). When it comes to India and western influence, there is great confusion on the part of the people of India.
The Portuguese were the first to attempt to colonize India but with no real political or governmental structure, as India had no real ability to resist those who chose to occupy its land. An even more confusing situation arose when the Dutch overtook the Portuguese in India and the French settled in.During the early 1800’s the British had left and the French were “entrenched” in India, which ended up leading to the Great Mutiny of 1857 and became the beginning of the Independence movement for India (India’s Encounter, n.
d. ). China and India could have had great changes in their histories if had they embraced and at least attempted to unify opposing views to allow the cultures to cohabitate in an equally beneficial manner. For many years, even though their populations were great and people resourceful, both areas were far behind the west in technological advancements, military and economic stances (Wilson, 2011).A syncretistic approach could have yielded these two countries advancement much sooner than history shows us it did. While cultural Syncretism played a large part in African and Latin American history, it was equally resisted within China and India.
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