Book Report Essay

Submitted By FatimaM2015
Words: 922
Pages: 4

In the book Soul Rebels the author William F Lewis investigated Rastafarian culture in different regions of Jamaica, the suburban and urban areas of Kingston, the
United States, as well as in Ethiopia. Rastafari is a young, Africa-centred religion which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s. It was created following the coronation of Haile
Selassie I as King of Ethiopia in 1930. The Rastafari movement began in Jamaica because that is where most of the black population had originally been slaves forced from Africa to work. The movement was started as a means of empowerment so it may not be too surprising that Rastafari as a belief system completely rejects the standards and structure of western society. For people who had been oppressed by Western society and colonialism, the Rastafari movement was a way to claim back their own way of life. By rejecting the “Babylonian” system that was deemed corrupt and oppressive, Rastafari are able to take back their own culture and connect to their roots.Rastafarians believe Haile Selassie is their messiah, and that he will return members of the black community, who are living in exile as the result of colonisation and the slave trade, back to Africa. The Rastafari are a religious, philosophical and political culture. In this culture an individual's adherence to the belief varies in a way which corresponds with their own ideologies or is reflected in their economic practices.
These various individuals range from those who live primarily by farming and fishing and are more traditional, to those who own their own businesses who practice and live their lives in a manner that follows their own personal interpretation of Rastafarian teachings. The Rastafari are critical towards colonialism, imperialism and capitalism, and hold a deep opposition towards capitalistic western cultures that they refer to as
"Babylon".
The strength of Lewis’s book is that he explains the Rastafarian culture very honestly and it uses real ethnographic research rather than just history or common facts. There is a lot of material out there on Rastafari which is not original and which does provide such a detailed ethnographic background as does this one. While Lewis was researching for his ethnography, he traveled to a Jamaican fishing village, an urban neighborhood in the United States and an Ethiopian town to learn firsthand about the beliefs and ideologies of the Rastafarian people, rather than just relying on previous research or works of literature. Lewis becomes very intrigued by individuals who expand his view of the Rastafarian culture and show him the true meaning of what it is to be Rastafari. Throughout his book Lewis is able to show that the revolutionary culture lives up to its stereotypical reputation, consistent with the rumor that all
Rastafarians are part of a "deviant subculture", but Lewis also does an amazing job in capturing the truth and beauty behind the actions and rumors of the Rastafari. The fact that Lewis gives an up-to-date comparative account of the contemporary variety of Rasta in three very different context which are Jamica, United States, and
Shashemene in Ethiopia is also very impressive and makes the book different than other works of literature out there.
A major strength of the book lies in Lewis' ability to capture a satisfying amount of different perspectives, and in that the most important elements of the Rastafarian

ideology were mentioned. Other strengths of the book lie in Lewis’s powerful arguments which are backed by his ethnographic research. In the beginning of…