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legacies of cultural syncretism in Africa and the Americas

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Compare and contrast the legacies of cultural syncretism in Africa and the Americas with the resistance to cultural change Westerners encountered in China and India. What cultural factors caused the differences in outcomes? What legacies have the differences in types of encounters and degrees of cultural change left today? Had syncretism not occurred in the Americas, how might modern culture be different? If cultural syncretism had taken root during early encounters in China or India, how might they be different today?

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According to Claus & Mills (2003), cultural syncretism is the combination of different religious or philosophical doctrines that results in commonly accepted local practices that appear to link different orientations. Syncretism is said to occur when two different beliefs are brought together to create a new belief. Cultural syncretism in Africa and the Americas can therefore be termed as the exchange of African and American cultures to form a new culture. National Park Service (2003) provides that cultural syncretism between African and American took place in the colonial era since West and Central African emigrants were one the largest population to arrive in the United States and due to their large number they contributed significantly to historical and cultural aspects of America.

Cultural syncretism in Africa and the Americas :

The Atlantic slave trade resulted in a large number of Africans to be relocated to the Americas thus providing an opportunity for African culture to be integrated into American practices. Walter (2005) provides that enslaved Africans identified themselves as separate nations as a result of establishment of ethnic enclaves due to import patterns during the slave trade. The slave trade was patterned therefore resulting in cultural patterns in the Americas and this resulted in different cultures in the Americas (Walter, 2005).

The study of African influence on American culture gained momentum in the 1940s when Franklin Frazier wrote "The Negro Family in the United States" and argued that African Americans had lost their culture due to slavery. Melville J. Herskovits in "The Myth of the Negro Past" challenged the theory and provided that Africans had played a significant role in the creation of culture in the Americas (National Park Service, 2003).

Each African group brought cultural practices that were not identical but had similar foundations and this resulted in cultural practices intermingling. The National Park ...

Solution Summary

Legacies of cultural syncretism in Africa and the Americas are assessed.