The Politics of Identity: Exploring Contemporary Representations of Jamaican Rastafari Male Artistes in the Dancehall by Troy R. Folkes

Rastafari has had a long tradition of using music to communicate messages of peace, love, unity, wellness, social justice and African consciousness. A traditional Rastafari is usually defined by these characteristics within a socio-religious context. However, Rastafari artistes’ involvement in Dancehall music and culture has obscured the sacred and socio-religious identity of Rastafari. This has given rise to contemporary representations of Rastafari, where these new representations are partly influenced by Dancehall music and culture.

A qualitative methodology was used in the study and involved an exploratory research of four Jamaican male Rastafari artistes who participate in Dancehall culture. A case study approach was used as the method for gathering the data which included lyrical content, media reports and the artistes’ presentation of self. The data in the case studies were analyzed using visual and narrative analysis.

The study revealed that the need to remain relevant has motivated these Rastafari artistes to adopt contemporary identities and approaches to Rastafari. Although their actions may have contradicted with Rastafari core values, it has had the benefit of reviving aspects of the Rastafari culture within a contemporary context.

Keywords: Dancehall, Identity, Rastafari.

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