Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Anthropology

Advisor

Jonathan Shannon

Committee Members

Jacqueline Nassy Brown

Ismael García-Colón

Aisha Khan

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology

Keywords

Rastafari, race, blackness, Puerto Rico, identity

Abstract

In my dissertation, I examine how the Rastafari community in Puerto Rico constructs, reshapes, imagines and embodies blackness as a personal, political, and ideological identity. I argue that my interlocutors refuse non-black privilege and choose blackness, an act that is understood as identification not with subjugation but with power. I consider their identification with blackness and enactment of this identity as a performance. My analysis, based on 22 months of ethnographic research, and utilizing ethnography, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews, explores how my interlocutors claim blackness as a spiritual identity. In doing so, they demonstrate the metaphysical nature of race thus complicating how race and racial identification has historically been understood. To best investigate this construction, reworking, and adoption of a spiritual blackness among Puerto Rican Rastas, I engage with the concepts of the social construction of race, identity formation and performance, and the racialization of religion.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Thursday, September 30, 2021

Graduate Center users:
To read this work, log in to your GC ILL account and place a thesis request.

Non-GC Users:
See the GC’s lending policies to learn more.

Share

COinS