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Becoming Rasta: Origins of Rastafari Identity in Jamaica

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An exploration into why and how Jamaicans become Rastafari in spite of increasing incrimination of the religion

So much has been written about the Rastafari, yet we know so little about why and how people join the Rastafari movement. Although popular understandings evoke images of dreadlocks, reggae, and marijuana, Rastafarians were persecuted in their country, becoming a people seeking social justice. Yet new adherents continued to convert to Rastafari despite facing adverse reactions from their fellow citizens and from their British rulers.

Charles Price draws on in-depth interviews to reveal the personal experiences of those who adopted the religion in the 1950s to 1970s, one generation past the movement's emergence. By talking with these Rastafari elders, he seeks to understand why and how Jamaicans became Rastafari in spite of rampant discrimination, and what sustains them in their faith and identity.

Utilizing new conceptual frameworks, Price explores the identity development of Rastafari, demonstrating how shifts in the movement’s identity—from social pariah to exemplar of Blackness—have led some of the elder Rastafari to adopt, embrace, and internalize Rastafari and blackness as central to their concept of self.

ISBN-13: 9780814767474

Publisher: New York University Press

Publication Date: 09-01-2009

Pages: 288

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Charles Price is Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at Temple University. He is the author of Becoming Rasta: The Origins of Rastafari Identity in Jamaica and co-author of Community Collaborations: Promoting Community Organizing.

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 Race Formation and Morally Configured Black Identities
2 Ethnogenesis, Surprise, and Collective Identity Formation
3 The Positive Power of Stigma and Black Identity
4 Encounters
5 Acts of Identity Work
6 Rastafari Nation on the Move: Identity and Change
Conclusion: Toward a More Comprehensive
Understanding of Racial Identity Formation
Acronyms
Notes
References
Index
About the Author