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Rhetoric(s) of the Black Church: Sex, Religion, and HIV/AIDS Across the African Diaspora

House, Christopher (2012) Rhetoric(s) of the Black Church: Sex, Religion, and HIV/AIDS Across the African Diaspora. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies, underpinnings, and justifications of Black Disaporic religious rhetoric and pastoral communication surrounding the HIV/AIDS crisis that disproportionately affects people of African descent. Specifically, this dissertation focuses on three areas of the world currently ravaged by AIDS--sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States--as they can best provide a representative sample of both world-wide HIV/AIDS cases and diverse Christian churches that speak to the multitudes on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis through a culturally geographic and theologically grounded rhetoric.

This study employs rhetorical criticism, oral history theory, and critical ethnography as lenses in examining the representative samples of pastoral communication collected in Africa (Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa), the Caribbean (Jamaica and the Bahamas) and the Washington, D.C. area. Together, over thirty-five Protestant pastors, bishops, and religious leaders of African descent from these respective regions were interviewed for this study. Additionally several African, Caribbean, and African-American faith-based, medical and non-governmental organizational leaders were interviewed.

Excerpts of HIV/AIDS religious rhetorics used in this dissertation suggest that there is a struggle deep within the soul of the church that is fluidly situated within a highly nuanced Du Boisian double-consciousness, in terms of the religious response to HIV/AIDS as it cuts across sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender, in particular. Thus, each chapter of this dissertation gives critical attention to the suasive strategies employed by religious leaders as they seek to reconcile salient and subtle tensions identified within their pulpitized religious rhetorics on HIV/AIDS with the wider social, epidemiological, and etiological contexts, intersections, and implications of their religiously grounded messages.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
House, Christophercah115@pitt.eduCAH115
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairZboray, Ronaldzboray@pitt.eduZBORAY
Committee MemberReid-Brinkley, Shanarasrb@pitt.eduSRB
Committee MemberLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberNelson, Paulpjnelson@pitt.eduPJNELSON
Date: 20 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 April 2012
Approval Date: 20 June 2012
Submission Date: 20 April 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 425
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Black Church, HIV/AIDS, Rhetoric, African Diaspora, Religion, Caribbean, United States, Africa, Health Communication
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2012 18:49
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2017 05:15


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