Date of Award

5-3-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Brett Esaki Slominski

Second Advisor

Monique Moultrie

Third Advisor

Makungu Akinyela

Abstract

An evil spiritual being, often called the devil, is an antagonist in several religious traditions. The religious ideology among enslaved Africans in America allowed for the devil to play an important, and sometimes ambiguous, role in their lives. Through the examination of conversion narratives, this research intends to argue that their conversion experiences are heavily impacted by and mirrored the reality of slavery. Therefore, the enslaved people’s accounts of the devil are influenced by the power and honor attributed to the institution of slavery. The data from gathered from the narratives will be interpreted through a poststructuralist lens of power and honor. Poststructuralist theories of power and honor will reveal the significance of the devil in conversion narratives and unearth an African American understanding of the devil that is created and sustained by the systems of power and honor in American slavery.

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