Nathaniel Samuel Murrell

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Chant Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader

Format: Paperback, 467 pages
Publisher: Temple University Press; 1st edition (March 23, 1998)
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
Edition Language: English
ISBN-10: 1566395844
ISBN-13: 978-1566395847

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This anthology explores Rastafari religion, culture, and politics in Jamaica and other parts of the African diaspora. An Afro-Caribbean religious and cultural movement that sprang from the mean streets of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1930s, today Rastafari has close to one million adherents. The basic message of Rastafari–the dismantling of all oppressive institutions and the liberation of humankind–strongly appeals even to non-believers who are captivated by the 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 Africana 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,” Nathaniel Samuel Murrell notes in the Introduction. “CHANTING DOWN BABYLON” brings together scholarly commentary, a long-hidden founding document of the movement, and the voices of leading Rastas who explain and critique the beliefs and practices associated with Rastafari. Also included are a glossary, an annotated bibliography, and an interview with the pioneering scholar of Rastafari, Leonard Barrett.

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