Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Marc D. Landry

Second Advisor

Connie Z. Atkinson

Third Advisor

Andrea C. Mosterman


Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a Japanese new religious movement present in 192 countries. Despite the substantial amount of academic work that has been produced on SGI’s overseas expansion, many scholars continue to overlook the local context when analyzing the organization’s global presence. This paper is based on oral history interviews and examines the experiences of five members of the SGI-USA New Orleans Buddhist Center, located in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. This thesis argues that many SGI practitioners choose to join and remain in the organization because it fills specific spiritual and emotional voids in their lives, creates an inclusive environment in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender, and allows them to hold leadership roles. Utilizing oral histories to analyze the experiences of members of new religious movements like SGI might contribute to a better understanding of the successful global reach of these groups.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.