Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Levy, Dr. Michelle

Abstract

Cultural democracy is the ability of a people to define their existence regardless of the dominant culture whose norms and values are institutionally accepted and expected. Where most freedoms refer to the individual, cultural freedom, in contrast, is a collective freedom referring to the right of people to follow or adopt a way of life of their choice. While varying levels of economic and political democracy have been achieved in America, the social techniques devised to create and implement cultural democracy are dependent upon capitalist endeavors developed from religious indoctrination and colonization. Through a close examination of Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land and N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, this study explores the historic role that religion and colonization have played in the economic and political progression of African American and Native Americans. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin serves as a reference point to examine the culture of the oppressed from the standpoint of the dominant culture and how it differs in scope from the humanity displayed in the works of Brown and Momaday. Manchild in the Promised Land and House Made of Dawn demonstrate how when those who comprise the best knowers of the tangible and intangible assets of a culture have the capacity to be active participants as opposed to passive followers in the development of their communities, it is much more likely to create a thriving economic and political center to stimulate opportunity and human progression.

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