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ANTH111 SPR16 Haile Selassie I & the Early Rastafari

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Julie Jenkins

on 25 April 2016

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Transcript of ANTH111 SPR16 Haile Selassie I & the Early Rastafari

Haile Selassie I & the Early Rastafari
What do we mean by invoking the term ethnogenesis to help explain the emergence of Rastafari?
-identity has shifted in relation to changing circumstances
-different levels of action- agency of people, influence of institutions and power
What was the most influential key moment in Rastafarian ethnogenesis?
Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Conquering Lion of Judah
"...Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil." Haile Selassie I 1963
Leonard Howell, Robert Hinds, Joseph Hibbert, Archibald Dunkley
What was going on in the 1930s?
--Affected by Great Depression in 1930s
--increasing unemployment, economic insecurity
--many lost jobs
--didn't have land to go back to for agriculture
--those with jobs-- went on strike in 1938 against low wages and working conditions
British Colonial Admin
established representative self-government
still under control of Britain though
developed first political party (Peoples National Party) and labor union (Bustamante Industrial Trade Union)
Manley vs Bustamante
-Early Rastafari preachers speaking out against:
-colonial power structures & values that exercised control of African diaspora
-exploitative capitalist relationships
-system where power & profits take precedence over human freedom & dignity
-racial discrimination that positioned "blackness" as inferior to British ideal

So how did the central ideologies, symbols, and practices associated with Rastafari develop?
"reconstructed traditionalism"
How do anthropologists make sense of religion?
Intellectualist Approach:

religion is an attempt to make sense of and explain one's experience and the world around us

Symbolist/Interpretive Approach:

examine what religions represent; how do symbols and rituals act as metaphors for social life
Clifford Geertz
(1926-2006)
need to interpret culturally specific "webs of significance" that people create and are caught up in
--and how they relate to various social structures
Provides way to interpret the world-- "models of"
--Reassures us that the world is orderly & meaningful (not chaotic)--
--Connecting us to a reality 'more real' than everyday life.
"models for" because they also direct our behaviours
--"symbolic templates"
In ritual, “the world as lived and the world as imagined turn out to be the same world”
In looking at these songs, how does the concept of Babylon act as a 'model of', or interpretative lens for reality? What is Babylon?
How does it act?
Emile Durkheim
1858-1917
--The main issue is social integration and cohesion—the creation and perpetuation of the group as a group.
--project the social values and norms of society into a symbol

--When the group celebrates its spirits or gods, the group is
re-attaching themselves to the social values of the community
What key symbols are used that encompass the group's values?
Lion
Dreadlocks
Dread Talk
Ital
Ganja

Rastafari Ethnogenesis
Haile Selassie I -- Ras Tafari Makonnen
1930
Ethiopia
constitutional independence vs British oversight
The Pinnacle
pre-capitalist peasantry; economic communalism; gender segregation; small scale production
House of Youth Black Faith - 1940s
challenging British ideals of respectability & standard of beauty
personally achieved wisdom, through interpretation of Biblical texts & speeches of Haile Selassie
-Reasoning Sessions
-Ritualized use of marijuana
Dread-Talk
--challenge usage of British- English as marker of "civility"
-I an I
-downpression
-overstand
--Word Sound Power
-spoken word as manifestation of divine presence and power to create and bring destruction
Evans-Pritchard
& the Azande
Babylon:
--Book of Revelation: symbol of evil
--forces that "downpress" and dehumanize
--Initially, understood as Jamaica b/c of colonial hierarchies - "Rockstone is Babylon"
--symbolically opposite of Babylon
-true home, place of redemption
-Zion
--pride, community, charity, serenity
--advocate for physical or symbolic repatriation
-use symbols that demonstrate rejection of British 'middle/upper' class values, capitalism, and wage labor
authoritative individuality
--reasoning balances individuality as people try to gain consciousness and consensus
--"man free"
Nyahbingi
12 Tribes of Israel
Bobo Shanti
Drawn together by
--Ethiopianism, biblicism, anti-colonialism, I n I consciousness
--common sense of evil and common sense of identity/solidarity
Tension about symbols in delineating identification
--need to maintain group boundaries in various social/historical moments
Full transcript