Join Sebastián Eduardo Dávila for a masterclass in “Syncretism in the study of contemporary art from the Americas: crafting a concept.”

Please note that CVC Masterclasses are open to University of Cambridge students only. Registration information is at the bottom of the event listing.

The first part of the class consists of a text-based discussion. Together, we will approach the concept of syncretism from three different angles: the study of religion, diaspora, and language. We will discuss excerpts from books that have been influential for cultural anthropology since the 1990s, among others. Our aim is to delineate an understanding of syncretism not only as the “fusion” or “synthesis” of religious practices, but as embedded in histories of enslavement, colonisation, and diaspora. A linguistic understanding of syncretism will help us in this conceptual task. The second part of the class is dedicated to the exploration of the possibilities and limits of syncretism for the study of contemporary art. We will discuss a short film by choreographer Amanda Piña, where she introduces to the project Danza y Frontera inspired by the performance of a pre-hispanic dance practice, later adapted in the colony, in today’s Mexican state of Tamaulipas. On the border to the US, Tamaulipas is marked by violence and the presence of drug cartels. We will explore the complex transmissions at stake during the project—from the pre-colonial past to the neo-colonial present, from a street dance to a choreographic project on stage, looking for the potential of the concept of syncretism for studying contemporary art practices like Piña’s.

Reading List

– Arkadiev, Peter and Dunstan Brown, “Introduction”, Oxford Bibliographies: Syncretism,
– Clifford, James, Routes. Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century, Cambridge et. al.: Harvard University Press, 1997, pp. 244–277.
– Shaw, Rosalind and Charles Steward, “Introduction. Problematizing Syncretism,” in: Shaw, Rosalind and Charles Steward (eds.), Syncretism/Anti-Syncretism. The Politics of Religious Synthesis, London and New York: Routledge, 1994, pp. 1–23.


This event is part of the CVC Masterclass series. It is open to University of Cambridge students only.

To register for this class, please send an email to with a short statement on the benefits of participation in this masterclass to your studies.