Rastafarian religion and everything it includes and goes around is under a strict eye of Jamaican people as well as anthropologists and sociologists on the island and from nearby countries. In fact, this culture splashed out of the current residents of Jamaica (its population) moved to this place mainly from Ethiopia. Noel Leo Erskine could talk about Rasta and followers of this cult, as this author has a clear idea of what it is entirely.
He could duly count down a period of time to shape the prerequisites and consequences of Rastafarian culture on Jamaica and its impact on African race and the values of bringing in something ethnically pure and original. On the other side, Anthony F. C. Wallace provides a theoretical approach toward getting indigenous peoples right. It is all about the anthropological implementation in each among most applicable approaches.
The book by Erskine is a so-called material to apply to Wallace’s anthropological perspective. It means that the overall analysis of Erskine, as a person who grew up and lived on Jamaica, encounters theoretical touches provided by Wallace. As far as might be seen, it would be fair to make it plain by dint of purely Jamaican suggestions and assumptions by Erskine proved or matched with the theoretical side of Rastafarian religion outlined by Wallace.
First of all, it is vital to admit that the sociology of religion is of interest for Wallace in his anthropological research. The author sincerely points out that each among religions (especially those spread over indigenous people or ethnically unique communities) should be recognized and further analyzed through sociology and anthropology aligned to make out the gist of any religion influencing social equilibrium within the society.
In this respect Wallace remarks the following idea: My own personal feeling is that sociological viewpoints (including much social anthropology) tend to focus on the scaffolding and milieu of religion rather than on religion itself, and that religion can best be understood from a combination of psychological and cultural points of view (Wallace, 1966, p. vii) Such idea is well provided by Erskine who tends to be accurate in identifying the so-called “stacks” of Rasta among Jamaican.
As a matter of fact, when Wallace grabs more attention to the factors (anthropological and sociological) or environment in which a definite religion appears, Erskine highlights a historical as well as personal background to interpret it correctly. In this case one should keep it in mind that Noel Erskine covers in his book the social issue of Rastafarians in its ethical and religious parameters. Erskine admits that due to the start of the Rastafarian movement by Marcus Garvey and the summer of Rasta owing to Bob Marley this religion became remarkable worldwide (Erskine, 2007).
Thus, it fulfilled beliefs of all African Ethiopian people on Jamaica, as Jamaicans by origin. To make it clear, one should understand that due to the religious pivot black people on Jamaica do not need to be repatriated to Ethiopia, as they have got their spiritual beginning on this island and in the Rastafarian peaceful ideology. The Wallace’s framework of the religions formation presupposes the fact that people should be apt at creating their values (Wallace, 1966). These ones bear specific traits peculiar to each among individuals (believers).
“Scaffolding” of a religion is definitely a historical process which requires time and people’s efforts to make it grow in a right direction. Providing an idea of the God, as a black figure, was challenging in a country under British supervision since 1655 up to the period of decolonization (Erskine, 2007). By the way, like in many nations, there were people to raise the feeling of personal uniqueness of Jamaican. Garvey and Marley are symbolically identified in the book by Erskine, as the national heroes and holy people who could make the significance of Jah and Rasta higher amid Christian (Catholic) trends (Erskine, 2007).
Wallace in his theoretical ramifications tries to investigate religion in its dynamics and characteristic features by means of finding out the “meaning of religion in some psychological or sociological function” (Wallace, 1966, p. 51). This corresponds to the way of Erskine’s discussion when he appeals to the mentality of Jamaican people and their strong will for freedom. Religion should unite people for some unique and cutting edge idea. In case with Rastafarians it is so, since it helps Jamaican people find their place “under the sun of Jamaica.
” Religious prospects underlined in the research by Erskine go around the focal point stated as follows: “God is an African” (Erskine, 2007, p. 158). This strong claim has a background implemented solely in the Rastafarian beliefs and its philosophical and social meaning for Jamaican people. The psychological milieu of the aforementioned statement can be explained in some ways, because God is the manifestation of a definite people’s “attraction, desire, and union as the fulfillment of desire” (Allen, 1978).
Hence, it is possible to say that Erskine has all grounds to state that for Africans God should be an African only. From the anthropological point of view this sounds quite logical, as it is full of characteristic features referred to the history, sociology, philosophy and psychology of Rasta since its formation into a separate religion of African residents on Jamaica. Thus, Wallace’s arguments in describing religion are appropriate to how Erskine points out Rastafarian religious framework and its cultural as well as social value for Jamaicans.
This idea can be supported by the excerpt from the Bible where it is told about the importance of Ethiopian people who were in touch with Israeli people in ancient times. This fact cannot but boost the morale African people and their dedication to Christian God but in terms of Rasta. Erskine builds up a strong and biblically supported assumption growing into a statement that “the exodus will be a return to Ethiopia, the Promised Land” (Erskine, 2007, p. 38). It is when Wallace tries to avoid the issue of meaning in his academic research on the religion in its description and proper formation (Wallace, 1966).
Interestingly to admit that the entire picture of Rastafarian religion and its place among the rest of religious trends and ideologies is fully developed and structured. To sum up, the theoretical approaches stated by Anthony F. C. Wallace promote an academic framework for the ideas on Rastafarian religion outlined in the book by Noel Leo Erskine. The anthropological and sociological views which Wallace made cornerstone in his observation of religion on the whole fit the claims and the approach (historical) chosen by Erskine.
All in all, the philosophical treatment prescribed to Rasta does not go aside from philosophies included in most popular religions of the world. Reference Allen, D. (1978). Structure and creativity in religion: hermeneutics in Mircea Eliade’s phenomenology and new directions. New York, NY: Walter de Gruyter. Erskine, N. L. (2007). From Garvey to Marley: Rastafari Theology (History of African-American Religions). Boca Raton, FL: University Press of Florida. Wallace, A. F. (1966). Religion; an anthropological view. New York: Random House.