Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Anthea Butler

Second Advisor

Karen Redrobe


Since the inception of cinema more than one hundred years ago, religion has constituted an essential element of screen images. Like religion, cinema engages in the enterprise of worldmaking, the practice of (re)creating the world and imposing order and meaning on it. With the production of its inaugural film, Living in Bondage (1992), Nollywood – the cinema of Nigeria – positioned itself within the tradition of incorporating religion in the ability of the “magic of cinema” to create, order, and enchant the world. This dissertation explores how Nollywood, influenced by the predominant moral ethos of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity in southern Nigeria, produces the prevailing images of wealth, gender, and the supernatural in its milieu. Locating its reading in both religious studies and cinema studies, the dissertation employs a contextual critical discourse analysis of Nollywood films, as it interrogates a) the images of wealth, gender, and the supernatural that Nollywood produces, b) how Nollywood productions influence the conceptions of these categories in contemporary Nigeria, and c) what ways popular religion – as an everyday lived experience – impacts these constructions. The dissertation argues that by connecting to the overwhelming influence of Pentecostal-charismatic Christian mindset in contemporary southern Nigeria, Nollywood succeeds (in the context of cinema’s creating ability) in producing the prevailing popular images of wealth, gender, and the supernatural in the society. Informed by this Pentecostal-charismatic worldview, the narratives, themes, and characters that Nollywood films construct not only constitute parts of the people’s everyday discourse, their verisimilitude also influences the audiences’ moral outlook on life. The films align the meaning they construct with the audiences’ “common-sense” understanding of the world and the central place of religion in that world.


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