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Title: An investigation into the phenomenon of the black Madonna
Author: Landman, Melanie Rose
ISNI:       0000 0004 2738 7145
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2012
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The following thesis investigates the figure of the black Madonna. Because there is a lack of information on why and when these figures were created, this has created an air of mystery and intrigue around them and they have become the subject of highly speculative assumptions. The thesis has two main aims. Firstly, it analyses the trends in the existing literature; it considers the problems such research raises and how these might be addressed more critically. Secondly, this thesis will argue that it is possible to adopt a different way of approaching the subject of black Madonnas. The research in this thesis was conducted because it was felt not only were there were gaps in the existing literature, but there were questions raised in this literature that largely went unanswered. A significant section of the existing literature has used what might be described as a ‘grand narrative’ approach to the subject, trying to find an explanation that can account for the existence of all black Madonnas and what these images might mean. This thesis adopts a ‘lived religion’ approach to the study of black Madonnas. By conducting an ethnographic, fieldwork based method, it looked at the place of the black Madonna at St Mary’s Anglican Church, London and the relationship the congregation have with this black Madonna. It was found that this shrine challenged some of the existing assumptions about black Madonnas. Rather than the powerful, mysterious, esoteric alternative to the Virgin Mary portrayed in the previous literature, the black Madonna at St Mary’s was not always a central feature for worshippers. This research demonstrates that different results may be obtained if the focus is on one shrine rather than a comparative study. It is the combination of a critical examination of the existing literature with the results of the fieldwork that has made this research an original contribution to the field of black Madonna studies.
Supervisor: Thomas, Lynn ; Beattie, Christina ; Balzani, Marzia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: black madonna