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Syncretism in America, Africa, India, and China Essay

Syncretism as defined by Merriam-Webster is the combination of different forms of belief or practice or the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms. Simplified this means two cultures combine thoughts and beliefs into its own “new form” of an old belief. The difference in the syncretism of the America and Africa and the Indian and Chinese cultures were greatly different, but reflect similar traits in each other. One of the main similarities in these syncretism’s is the spread of religion.

In the American/African model of syncretism the spread of Christianity began when European’s began exploration on the African continent and it spread like wild fire. As the transatlantic slave trade continued Westerners presence in and around Africa the inevitable spread of Christianity to “old world” tribes and to “new world” slaves took place. Still to this day Christianity is growing faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world. When the native Africans were transplanted into America they carried with them the beliefs they were brought up with.

Now in new surroundings, in a new land, with new cultures these same people began to modify their old beliefs with some ideas and thoughts of their new world. Though the syncretism of India and China is not based on Christianity, but Buddhism, still the spread of religion is the constant in the variable. How Christianity took Africa by storm was not how Buddhism took China. Because of Chinas seclusion to the outside world Buddhism slowly grew in China. The language difference and thought processes of these two people also affected the spread of syncretism.

Whereas the American/African syncretism was forced into overdrive, because of the transatlantic slave trade, the slow adaptation of Indian Buddhism into the Chinese language and society was drastically slower. The Chinese people were more in the here and now with their thoughts and language and the Indian people were more in the ever-present and meta-physical with their thoughts and language. These differences allowed for a slower adaptation of Buddhism in the Chinese culture, but it is still present today.


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