Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Albert Kafui Wuaku

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Christine Gudorf

Third Advisor's Name

Ana Maria Bidegain


Death, Rituals, Funerals, Migration, Ghana, Ghanaians, South Florida, Diaspora, Identiy, Culture, Association, Ethnicity

Date of Defense



This thesis addresses the lack of attention to practices that take place in settings not considered primarily religious, such as life-cycle rituals in the growing body of literature on religious practices of recently emerging African diaspora communities in the West. It argues that these practices are not only filters for indigenous African religious beliefs but also furnish for African migrants contexts that perform functions similar to those performed by the formal African diaspora religious institutions. Using ethnography, the study investigated the role of death rituals in the lives of Ghanaian members of the United Ghanaians Association of South Florida. The findings show that funerals organized in South Florida for relatives of members of the Association enable this trans-migrant community to participate in the lives of their relatives in Ghana. Funerals also furnish for these migrants contexts for performing aspects of their culture helping to cultivate a shared sense of being together or identity, in the process. The study suggests that to understand the full dynamics of African migrant religious experience, a respectful attention must be paid to all the rites of passage that African migrants perform in the West, not only those within formal religious institutions.





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