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the combination of elements from different religions or different cultural traditions. Syncretism in religious belief and practices has been especially associated with contexts, e.g. colonialism, in which a major religion is brought into contact with local religions, but it can also be seen as a general feature of the transformation of religions or cultures and of DIASPORAS. See also CULT, CARGO CULT, POSTCOLONIAL THEORY.



(1) The absence of differentiation that characterizes an undeveloped state of certain phenomena. Examples are art during the initial stages of human culture, when music, singing, poetry, and the dance were not distinguished from one another, and a child’s mental functions during the early stages of its development.

(2) The blending or inorganic merging of heterogeneous elements. An example is the merging of different cults and religious systems in late antiquity— the religous syncretism of the Hellenistic period.

(3) In philosophy, syncretism denotes a variant of eclecticism.



in linguistics, the merging of once formally distinct grammatical categories or meanings into one form, which, as a result, becomes polysemous or polyfunctional. In Latin, for example, syncretism in the case system led to a combining of the functions of the instrumental and locative cases in the ablative case. Syncretism can occur not only in the morphology but also in the syntax of a language. The concept of syncretism is paradigmatic, differing from the syntagmatic neutralization of oppositions. Syncretism is an irreversible systemic shift in the process of the development of a language; neutralization is a living process associated with the use of linguistic units in speech.

References in periodicals archive ?
A major feature of this phenomenon is that many of the most important elements of the syncretistic outcome are related to the miraculous - to the supernatural manipulation of earthly reality in otherwise impossible ways.
But much of the church adopted a syncretistic mixture of fervent personal faith and individual economic prosperity--not unlike versions that were popular in America in the late 20th century.
The making of Americans has been characterized by a conflicted "mutuality" that involves, in Eric Lott's memorable phrase, both "love and theft." Blacks and Jews in Literary Conversation underscores this stunning irony; in one of the most heterogenous and syncretistic nations in the world, the belief in racial and/or ethnic purity continues to inform most discussions of American literature and culture.
The Prophets, time and again, inveigh against syncretistic practices among the people.
They see their syncretistic event as a sign of future, universal hope and an ultimate union of traditions that have been disparate and even hostile in the long past.
Portraits, still lifes, and idiosyncratic takes on retablo, or devotional painting, are augmented by watercolors and oil sketches from the mid-'20s and by syncretistic spiritual iconographies made later in the artist's life.
Perhaps in the development of eclectic and syncretistic traditions, the tolerance of a prenationalist era in B-H awaits a deeper interreligious dialogue that will allow for more substantive communal reconciliation.
Neylan points out that two eventualities may occur: Reproduction, in which one ideology replaces another (much as a virus rewrites genetic code); or Transposition, in which syncretistic processes negotiate translation of the arriving ideology to align it to the indigenous one in meaningful and reinforcing ways (174a).
[1] A comment by theologian Edmund Gibbs of Fuller Theological Seminary suggests the impact of such syncretistic religious thinking may be having on our students: "Younger people live with ambivalence.
I, for one, would argue that on the one hand they demonstrate the syncretistic openness of folk religion generally, and on the other hand they reflect primarily on the radical split between female and male piety among Jews (and conversos), but Foa's description of a "transformation" of observance is stimulating.
Rather, Shakespeare had a 'syncretistic method for incorporating Protestant and Catholic elements into his plays' that was unique.
(12) Syncretistic cults that previously attempted to operate under the umbrella of the Catholic church are now showing their own face and becoming autonomous religious communities.