RASTAFARI by Barry Chevannes


Roots and Ideology
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 Chevannes (Sociology/Univ. of the West Indies, Jamaica) uses oral history, interviews, and a good deal of historical interpretation and synthesis to present a history of Rastafarianism, the Jamaican-based pan-African movement. Crudely speaking, Rastafarian ideology has elements of African religions, Christian revivalism, and Jewish messianism. Rastafaris believe that, since being abducted from Africa during the slave trade, all those in the African diaspora have been living in exile and are destined, writes Chevannes, to be ``delivered out of captivity by a return to `Zion,' that is, Africa...or Ethiopia, the seat of Jah, Ras Tafari himself, Emperor Haile Selassie's precoronation name.'' Rastafarianism was heavily influenced by the black nationalism of Marcus Garvey, played a large part in the political turmoil of 20th-century Jamaica, and was made familiar to Americans through the music of Bob Marley and other reggae artists. Chevannes addresses all these currents and ties his history of the Rastafari to domestic Jamaican politics and to global pan-African movements. Scholarly and cautious about making factual claims without sufficient data, Chevannes is also unabashedly sympathetic to the Rastafari.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8156-2638-X
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Syracuse Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994