Drawings of gods: A Multicultural and Interdisciplinary Approach of Children’s Representations of Supernatural Agents
Pictorial representations of gods are widely present in various religious traditions, while also occupying a place in the imagination of children. Of course, their representations vary according to age, but they are also influenced by the religious education received and the child’s cultural environment. Collecting drawings is a well-tested technique for studying children’s imaginary representations. Based on a collection of several hundred drawings from various regions of the world including Brazil, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia and Switzerland, this project studies the evolution of the representation of God or other supernatural beings (gods, spirits, geniuses, etc.) by children and adolescents aged between 5 and 18. A focus is placed on the strategies implemented by children, namely recourse to traditional religious representations and images of supernatural beings conveyed by animated films and comics.
At the end of the project, the objective is to describe the main strategies used by the children while being able to highlight how the choice of one strategy rather than another is influenced by the child’s age, sex, religious education and cultural environment. The work context is interdisciplinary; the analysis of the collected material combines the computer processing of images and descriptions provided by specialists in child development, and the study of the religions and cultural contexts of the origin of the drawings. These image analyses will be supplemented by the textual analysis of comments provided by the children to explain what they have drawn.