Chapter

The construction of a religious chain of memory

Sarah Dayens

in Time and Memory in Reggae Music

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780719076213
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702116 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719076213.003.0007
The construction of a religious chain of memory

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Reggae music and the Rastafari movement transmit a memory of slavery and a memory of Africa that can be characterised as diasporic, in relation to an original center as much as to the shared experience which followed a founding event: the forced exile provoked by the slave trade. This collective memory is reinforced by a strong identification with the history of the Bible, especially the story of the Twelve Tribes of Israel: a people without a land, and gods in exile who ‘are not dead’ but participate in the transmission of a memory that is alive and in the construction of a collective identity. For the rastas, the members of the African diaspora, exiled across the ocean, are the descendants of the biblical Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Rastafari movement transmits a religious memory as well as a religious construction of the origin. Within reggae lyrics are found three types of ‘Psalm borrowings’: simple references to the original Psalm, adaptations and literal quotations that conform to the original. Psalm 23 is among the most referenced psalms in reggae music.

Keywords: reggae; African diaspora; collective memory; slavery; psalms; Bible; Twelve Tribes; Rastafari movement; religious memory; transmission

Chapter.  6896 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies

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