A Kwanzaa Idea as Religious Space: A Rhetoric of Resistance

By Annette Madlock.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This investigation provided an opportunity to explore how communication relates to human interaction through an understanding of messages created using a variety of mediums, within a particular community. Scholars and researchers can better understand the meanings that groups encode into their messages by looking beyond text and spoken word and analyzing a variety of artifacts. This study investigated the African American cultural holiday Kwanzaa and analyzed the use of its communication artifacts called the Nguzo Saba, within a specific religious community (Kwanzaa Community Church, Presbyterian Church USA, in Minneapolis, Minnesota). The study helped to define that community’s cultural space using symbolic convergence theory, fantasy theme analysis, and Afrocentricity. Symbolic convergence theory suggests that groups share messages to gain acceptance and to recruit new members. Fantasy theme analysis utilizes as its criteria obvious as well as emergent symbolization within messages that intertwine into a coherent dramatization. Fantasy theme analysis uses setting, dramatis personae, action, saga, and rhetorical community as criteria. Afrocentricity is the lens through which this study of African-American communication phenomenon was conducted, as the major theory and method used come out of a Eurocentric paradigm. The concept of Afrocentricity itself is a form of space acquisition as it strives to create room for the presence of intellectual thought of Africa and Africans being the subject and not the object of discourse. The study demonstrated how the use of fantasies, created within this cultural holiday, has evolved over time to change in form and function. This change allowed a cultural holiday to be used as a tool to construct and maintain a rhetorical vision for a community’s self agency and social justice.

Keywords: Kwanzaa, Christianity, Religion, Afrocentricity, Rhetorical Vision, Fantasy Theme Analysis, Symbolic Convergence Theory

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.183-194. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.317MB).

Dr. Annette Madlock

Assistant Professor and Basic Course Director, Department of Communication, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connticut, USA

Dr. Annette Madlock (Assistant Professor and Director of the Basic Courses) holds an A.A. in Administration from Milwaukee Area Technical College, a B.A. in Organizational Management and an M.A. in Communication, both from Bethel University, and a Ph.D. in Human Communication from Howard University. While attending Howard she also served as an Assistant Coach for both the Policy Debate and Speech teams and has worked with students to establish teams at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). Her primary areas of specialization are Intercultural Communication and Rhetoric with current research emphasis on identity, African-American communication dynamics, white privilege, and women’s studies. As director of the all university required courses in public speaking and professional presentation Dr. Madlock teaches courses in the area and provides direction to 15 part-time faculty. She has made strong efforts to maintain consistency and excellence in the communication curriculum through assessment of student outcomes in all sections of the public speaking, culture and ethics courses. Before teaching at the college level and coming to SCSU Dr. Madlock spent several years working in the corporate sector.


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