Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Cunningham, Phyllis M.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Jamaica--Religious life and customs; Rastafarian literature; Rastafarian ethics; Rastafai movement--Jamaica


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the lived lives of 20 Rastafarians, whom I refer to as co-reasoners. Rastafarians have been defined as being members of a loosely organized religious-cultural movement that begin in Jamaica in the 1930s as a response to the oppressive conditions in which they found themselves. There were 14 Rastamen and 6 Rastawomen, reflecting the male dominance of the Rastafarian movement. The study further examined cultural and spiritual teachings and practices of the Rastafarians in response to oppressive conditions, and how this had an impact on the dominant Jamaican culture. Findings revealed the following six themes of the cultural and spiritual experiences as described by the co-reasoners. Findings fell within two categories: identity and ideology. The themes in the identity categories are as following: (1) lens of knowing, (2) self identity, (3) cultural identity, and (4) collective identity. The themes for the Rastafarian ideology are (5) spiritual groundation, and (6) traversing reality. The question guiding this ethnographic study was: How do Rastafarians impact dominant Jamaican culture? And how do Rastafarians contribute to the discourse on emancipation and liberation practices? The study draws on several bodies of literature including Jamaican history, Rastafarian culture, adult education, and transformation and transcendence. Through the interview process, it was revealed that (1) Rastafarians are empowered to reinvent themselves in their response to oppression and oppressive conditions, (2) Rastafarians are empowered to critique their own reality, and (3) Rastafarians are knowledge producers. Giving voice by “Chanting down” through the vehicle of reggae music and critical discourse, the Rastafarians have created and implemented a culture composed of spiritual values and symbols of language, oral history, and tradition. Rastafarian culture acknowledges the life force, interconnectedness and soul force as a way of dealing with oppression and oppression conditions, and to move to another dimensional space of knowing. This knowing is perceived through a higher power of Jah, a way of life requiring inner reflection and outward social action. In addition to the co-reasoners' voices, sources of data utilized in the study were: (1) a history of Jamaica, and (2) a review of the literature of Rastafari, adult education, spirituality and transcendence. Additional resources included popular magazines and newspapers and discology. Adult educators can participate in the shared, ongoing dialogue of the nature of spirituality and emancipatory education practice. Rastafarians provide us with a way of looking at authentic ways of knowing through culture, language, and history. Our renewed focus needs to include how linguistics and symbols shape our social meaning. It is through this renewed commitment to listening to the voices of the Rastafarians that the small space can be expanded.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [161]-174)


xviii, 193 pages




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