Date of Award

8-10-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Monique Moultrie

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathryn McClymond

Third Advisor

Dr. Molly Bassett

Abstract

ABSTRACT

In the 1930s, the Rastafarian religion emerged. Considering the West as “Babylon”, likening themselves to the Israelites of the Hebrew Bible, and believing that Blacks were still in mental, political, and economic slavery; they claimed Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie I as God and urged Blacks to flee the enslavement of the West. I contend that following a religion that espoused a Black god and rejected the most popularly taught Christian doctrines was a modern method of marronage. The lived religious experiences of the Rastafari, from the growing of dreadlocks to physical repatriation, function as methods of flight from the clutches of “Babylon” or captivity. This thesis will show that within these aspects are located the historical concepts of both petit marronage and grand marronage. Utilizing an intersectional framework, I will also discuss the dilemma that faces women practitioners, e.g., subjugation in the face of a perceived freedom from Babylonian bondage.

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