Rastafari in Jamaica: Resistance to State Economic Policies

Shannon Mathes : Interdisciplinary Studies Field

Mentor: Professor Percy Hintzen, African-American Studies

Shannon will examine the effects that Rastafarianism has had on the political economy of Jamaica since the implementation of structural adjustment programs by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1977. Specifically, she will describe and analyze the ways in which Rastafarian organizations have challenged the policies of the Jamaican state regarding land use, land availability and small-scale agriculture in relation to the lowering of trade barriers and currency devaluation imposed by the IMF. This summer, Shannon will travel to Kingston and Ocho Rios, Jamaica to conduct archival research and interviews with members of the three main houses of Rastafari. On the basis of empirical findings concerning Rastafarian organization of material practices, her project will closely investigate the relation between political action in non-western regions and the role the organization of spirituality can assume in a political context. Shannon will present her findings as her senior honors thesis in Interdisciplinary Field Studies.