Creating Selves: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Self and Creativity in African American Religion
Guillory, Margarita La Faye Simon
Pinn, Anthony B.
Doctor of Philosophy
African American religious studies has offered a selective treatment of self. In such discourse, self is equated to a collective identity solely premised upon liberation from multidimensional forms of social oppression, such as racism, sexism, and c1assism. This dissertation, unlike previous treatments, offers a multidimensional model of self. Specifically, it argues that African American religion serves as viable outlets for the expression of multiple forms of self-personal, collective, and dynamical selves. An interdisciplinary approach consisting of social psychology, object relations theory, and anthropology of religion is used to examine various self formations among adherents in African American Spiritual(ist) churches in New Orleans. Results from these analyses reveal an inextricable interconnectedness between religion, creativity, and selfexpression. Namely, New Orleans Spiritual(ist) churches serve as outlets in which individual adherents utilize creative acts/products to express various views of themselves. These results move scholarly treatments of self in African American religious studies beyond a collective point of view by offering a multidimensional model of self premised notions of collectivity, individuality, and fluidity.