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Rastafarian: Religion & Culture

The Bible in the Caribbean

Religion, Culture, and Tradition in the Caribbean edited by Hemchand Gossai and Nathaniel Samuel Murrell
The Bible is the most widely read and influential book in the Caribbean; the Bible seems to be everywhere and in everything. The Bible has been used to name, claim, oppress, and exploit natives and the diaspora populations in the Caribbean, and it continues to define Caribbean reality and morality in the twentyfirst century. In this anthology, Caribbean scholars and scholars of Caribbean studies analyze the most fundamental assumptions and practices derived from different readings of the Bible at different epochs in Caribbean history. From the doleful slave narratives and missionary misreading of biblical text in the 1700s to the modern militant chant of Rastafari; from the Jamaica Maroon uprising to the Grenada Revolution; from Indo-Guyanese women's reality to Rastafarian "Sistren" spirituality; from the quiet waters of Anglo-Barbadian cultural experience to the high seas of Latino American relations, the anthology tells a gripping tale of the struggle of ethnic peoples to find meaning, "existence," and reality in a world they did not create. In a region characterized by colonialism and now functioning as a postcolonial environment with a dominant presence of Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Rastafarians, the possibilities with all their complexities are infinite.

HEMCHAND GOSSAI is Associate Professor of Religion at Muhlenberg College. He is the author of Power and Marginality in the Abraham Narrative and Justice, Righteousness and the Social Critique of the Eighth Century Prophets.

NATHANIEL SAMUEL MURRELL is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He is also the coeditor of the award-winning Chanting Down Babylon.

CHANTING DOWN BABYLON: The Rastafari Reader edited by Nathaniel Samuel Murrell, William David Spencer, and Adrian Anthony McFarlane (457 pp. Temple University, $69.95 cloth Press ISBN 1566395836; $29.95 PAPER ISBN 1566395844) An Afro Caribbean religious and cultural movement that sprang from the streets of Kingston, Jamaica in the 1930s, today Rastafari has dose to one million adherents. The basic message of Rastafarithe dismantling of all oppressive institutions and the liberation of humankind even has strong appeal to nonbelievers who are captivated by reggae music, the lyrics, and the "immortal spirit" of its enormously popular practitioner, Bob Marley. Probing into Rastafari’s still evolving belief system, political goals, and cultural expression, the contributors to this volume emphasize the importance of African history and the Caribbean context. "Long before the term ‘Afrocentricity’ came into popular use in the United States, Jamaican Rastafarians had embraced the concept as the most important recipe for naming their reality and reclaiming their black heritage in the African diaspora."

Introduction to the Rastafarian Phenomenon, Nathaniel Samuel Murrell

Part 1. Ideology and the Cultural Context
1. Dread "I" In a Babylon: Ideological Resistance and Cultural Revitalization, Ennis B. Edmonds 2. Rastas’ Psychology of Blackness, Resistance, and Somebodiness, Clinton Hutton and Nathaniel Samuel Murrell 3. Rastafari and the Exorcism of the Ideology of Racism and Classism in Jamaica, Barry Chevannes 4. Gender and Family Relations in Rastafari: A Personal Perspective, Maureen Rowe 5. Rastawoman as Rebel. Case Studies in Jamaica, Imani M. Tafari Ama 6. The Epistemological Significance of "I-am-I’ as a Response to Quasbie and Anancyism in Jamaican Culture, Adrian Anthony McFarlane

Part II. Roots and Historical Impact
7. African Dimensions of the Jamaican Rastafarian Movement, Neil J. Savishinsky 8. Marcus Garvey and the Early Rastafarians, Continuity and Discontinuity, Rupert Lewis 9. Who is Haile Selassie? His Imperial Majesty in Rasta Voices, Eleanor Wint in consultation with members of the Nyabingi Order 10. The Rasta-Selassie-Ethiopian Connections, Clinton Chisholm 11. Chanting Down Babylon Cluter-national: The Rise of Rastafari in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, Frank Jan van Dijk 12. Chanting Down Babylon in the Belly of the Beast. The Rastafari Movement in Metropolitan United States, Randal L. Hepner 13. Personal Reflections on Rastafari in West Kingston in the 1950s, George Eaton Simpson

Part III. Back-O-Wall to Hollywood, The Rasta Revolution through the Arts
14. From Burru Drums to Reggae Ridims: The Evolution of Rasta Music, Verena Record 15. Bob Marley: Rasta Warrior, Roger Steffens 16. Chanting Change around the World through Rasta Ridim and Art, William David Spencer 17. Towering Babble and Glimpses of Zion: Recent Depictions of Rastafari in Cinema, Kevin Aylmer

Part IV. Religion: Livity, Hermeneutics, and Theology
18. Discourse on Rastafarian Reality, Rex Nettleford 19. The Black Biblical Hermeneutics of Rastafari, Nathaniel Samuel Murrell and Lewmi Williams 20. The Structure and Ethos of Rastafari, Ennis B. Edmonds 21. The First Chant. Leonard Howell’s The Promised Key, with commentary by William David Spencer 22. Rastafari’s Messianic Ideology and Caribbean Theology of Liberation, Nathaniel Samuel Murrell and Burchell K. Taylor

Appendices A. An Interview with Professor Leonard Barrett, Indego Bethea, Michael Bruny, and Adrian McFarlane B. Who Is Who in the Rasta Academy: A Literature Review in Honor of Leonard Barrett, Nathaniel Samuel Murrell

 BOB MARLEY: Songs of Freedom by Adrian Boot, Chris Salewicz, Rita Marley ($19.95, paperback, 288 pages, Penguin Studio, ISBN: 0140244131) Rising from humble beginnings yet guided by his talent and an inborn mysticism, Bob Marley became an international figure who helped to introduce the music of Jamaica to the world and, with it, his own metaphysical message, "One World, One Love." The force of his personality, his music, his message, and his tragic and too early demise in 1981 at the age of thirty-six all established him in the firmament of individuals whose brief time on earth left the most lasting of legacies behind them.

Created with the cooperation of Marley’s family and friends, Bob Marley: Songs of Freedom is the story of Marley’s life and music, beginning with his birth in Trench Town, Jamaica, and chronicling his rise to the pinnacle of his popularity. A deeply loving, private man, Bob Marley possessed a poet’s understanding of life. Songs of Freedom reveals the gentleness, humor, and charisma of this unusual performer, as well as the sources of inspiration behind his songs. Included here are in-depth discussions of each album and recording session, descriptions of life on the road, and all the events Surrounding the world tours. It is also the story of The Wailers, Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingston, and, later, Family Man and Carlton Barrett, Wire Lindo, A] Anderson, Tyrone Downie, Seeco Patterson, junior Marvin, Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths as well as of Rastafarianism and Jamaica itself.

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