Syncretism is an important element of global religion, one that denotes amalgamation, exchange, synthesis, and a fusion of diverse beliefs and practices. Originating in religious studies, the term has been growingly used in history, anthropology, philosophy, and cultural studies. Until recently, it has been postulated on the assumption that civilization, culture, and religion are endowed with unity, coherence, and boundary but that their interaction produces mixed, syncretic forms. Most frequently, syncretism has been identified in religious belief and practice particularly in “heterodox cults”—for instance, African Americans who might combine Islam and the Baptist religion or the Baul singers of Bengal, whose culture brings together Vaishnavism and Islam. It is also used in architecture, in the visual and performing arts, and in the world of ideas, ...

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