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The Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies is delighted to announce the relaunch of its Caribbean Studies Seminar Series for the academic year 2021/22. These seminars will actively promote intellectual engagement and knowledge exchange by providing scholars - including postgraduate students and early career researchers - with the opportunity to present their interdisciplinary, comparative and integrated research on the Caribbean.

Rastafari in Britain and the Geographies of Ethiopianism

Chair:Jo Norcup (University of Warwick)
Speaker:Aleema Gray (University of Warwick)

In shifting the focus from the ideologies and biographies of those at the centre of Black radicalism, this paper examines the global, political, and cultural shifts that brought Rastafari from Jamaica to Britain during the 1950s. Along with moving an understanding of Rastafari history outside of a preoccupation with its 1970s popular appeal, this paper draws on Pro-Ethiopian sentiments and organising through the Ethiopian World Federation as an important lens to explore more discursive routes and roots of communication among the Rastafari that reimagined the borders of Britain’s colonial regime in the Caribbean and beyond. The focus on Rastafari’s engagements with Ethiopia and the imaginations it produced, allows us to explore local and creative networks that contested the centrality of Britain and reimagined the possibilities of Africa. Within this perspective, this paper attends to a kind of Rastafari activism from below that sees those on the margins as capable of producing revolutionary currents. In this sense, questions relating to myth and reality that have dominated the literature on the early Rastafari movement are less important than questions concerning loyalty, land and agency.

Aleema Gray is a PhD researcher at Warwick University. Her research, entitled ‘Bun Babylon’, is funded by the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies and uncovers a community-engaged history of the Rastafari movement in England. Aleema’s work focuses on documenting Black British history through the perspective of lived experiences. Her practice is driven by a concern for more historically contingent ways of understanding the present, especially in relation to notions of belonging, memory and contested heritage.

Seminar Programme

Winter term
25 January 2022 
22 February 2022
22 March 2022

Summer term
26 April 2022
10 May 2022
14 June 2022

Organisers: Eve Hayes de Kalaf (IMLR) and Jack Webb (Manchester)

The Caribbean Studies Seminar Series is organised by the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) in collaboration with Race, Roots and Resistance (University of Manchester)

All are welcome to attend this free seminar, which will be held online via Zoom at 16:00 GMT. You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button below to register.

Download guidance on participating in an online event (pdf)

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