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Transculturation is a term coined by Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz in 1947 to describe the phenomenon of merging and converging cultures.
Transculturation encompasses more than transition from one culture to another; it does not consist merely of acquiring another culture (acculturation) or of losing or uprooting a previous culture (deculturation). Rather, it merges these concepts and additionally carries the idea of the consequent creation of new cultural phenomena (neoculturation). Ortiz also referred to the devastating impact of Spanish colonialism on Cuba's indigenous peoples as a "failed transculturation". Transculturation can often be the result of colonial conquest and subjugation, especially in a postcolonial era as native peoples struggle to regain their own sense of identity.
In simple terms, transculturation reflects the natural tendency of people (in general) to resolve conflicts over time, rather than exacerbating them. (In the modern context, both conflicts and resolutions are amplified by communication and transportation technology—the ancient tendency of cultures drifting or remaining apart has been replaced by stronger forces for bringing societies together.) Where transculturation impacts ethnicity and ethnic issues the term "ethnoconvergence" is sometimes used.
In one general sense, transculturation covers war, ethnic conflict, racism, multiculturalism, cross-culturalism, interracial marriage, and any other of a number of contexts that deal with more than one culture. In the other general sense, transculturation is one aspect of global phenomena and human events.
The general processes of transculturation are extremely complex—steered by powerful forces at the macrosocial level, yet ultimately resolved at the interpersonal level. The driving force for conflict is simple proximity—boundaries, once separating people (providing for a measure of isolation) become the issue of a conflict when societies encroach upon one another territorially. If a means to co-exist cannot be immediately found, then conflicts can be hostile, leading to a process by which contact between individuals leads to some resolution. Often, history shows us, the processes of co-existence begins with hostilities, and with the natural passing of polarist individuals, comes the passing of their polarist sentiments, and soon some resolution is achieved. Degrees of hostile conflict vary from outright genocidal conquest, to lukewarm infighting between differing political views within the same ethnic community.
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