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Race, Class, and Political Symbols: Rastafari and Reggae in Jamaican Politics

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Overview

Dr. Waters is one of a new breed of analysts for whom the interpenetration of politics, culture, and national development is key to a larger integration of social research. Race, Class, and Political Symbols is a remarkably cogent examination of the uses of Rastafarian symbols and reggae music in Jamaican electoral campaigns. The author describes and analyzes the way Jamaican politicians effectively employ improbable strategies for electoral success. She includes interviews with reggae musicians, Rastafarian leaders, government and party officials, and campaign managers. Jamaican democracy and politics are fused to its culture; hence campaign advertisements, reggae songs, party pamphlets, and other documents are part of the larger picture of Caribbean life and letters. This volume centers and comes to rest on the adoption of Rastafarian symbols in the context of Jamaica’s democratic institutions, which are characterized by vigorous campaigning, electoral fraud, and gang violence. In recent national elections, such violence claimed the lives of hundreds of people. Significant issues are dealt with in this cultural setting: race differentials among Whites, Browns, and Blacks; the rise of anti-Cubanism; the Rastafarians’ response to the use of their symbols; and the current status of Rastafarian ideological legitimacy.

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Editorial Reviews

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“[Race, Class, and Political Symbols] examines the role played by Rastafarianism and reggae music as partisan instruments in Jamaican politics through a comparative analysis of five national elections from 1967 to 1983. . . . Waters skillfully integrates the historical context of Jamaican civil unrest, and the social milieu in which popular music is created, with the narrative of successive, increasingly critical elections and the public issues they encapsulated. The result is a judiciously researched, fascinating, empirically dense exploration of Jamaican political culture. . . . Race, Class, and Political Symbols opens up a new domain in the investigation of the diverse and intermingled origins and usages of Jamaican political expression. . . . [It] has provided a sound and meticulous foundation for future forays into this rich Caribbean political culture.” —Brenda Gayle Plummer, Contemporary Sociology
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887380242
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1985
  • Pages: 352

Meet the Author

Anita M. Waters is an associate of the Center for Policy Research and a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate Department of Sociology. She has written articles for both scholarly journals and Caribbean news magazines. She has worked as a publicist for a reggae production company. Dr. Waters lives in New York with her husband, the poet Fragano Ledgister.

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