Reclaiming African Religions in Trinidad: The Socio-Political Legitimation of the Orisha and Spiritual Baptist Faiths

Reclaiming African Religions in Trinidad: The Socio-Political Legitimation of the Orisha and Spiritual Baptist Faiths

Reclaiming African Religions in Trinidad: The Socio-Political Legitimation of the Orisha and Spiritual Baptist Faiths

Reclaiming African Religions in Trinidad: The Socio-Political Legitimation of the Orisha and Spiritual Baptist Faiths

Synopsis

Frances Henry's book explores various African religions as part of a cultural system, relevant to national identity in the island of Trinidad The book deals with the dynamic doctrinal and ideological changes that have taken place within the religions, and documents both the legislative and social acceptance of African religion today. This study is an important documentation of contemporary history and religious debate. It analyzes the process by which marginalized religions move toward the mainstream and the various internal and external tensions such movements engender. It makes a particularly strong contribution in its discussions of ritual authenticity. The work is based on a three-year period of fieldwork in Trinidad. Of interest to students and scholars interested in Caribbean Studies, especially African-oriented studies.

Excerpt

I started this project as a fairly traditional ethnography that focused on the research questions that informed the project - the increasing socio-political legitimation of African religions in Trinidad and the attempt to explain why these changes are taking place. From the outset I felt that it would probably reach several audiences in the academic world and people interested in the development of African religions, especially in the Caribbean.

As the work progressed, the question of audience as well as my own perspective began to change. I realized that the changes in the Orisha faith were of the moment - happening in front of my eyes, so to speak - and that the whole movement was very much in the public discourse. Writing this book therefore began to take on a slightly different perspective.

There is dialogue and debate within the Orisha and, to a lesser extent, the Spiritual Baptist communities and I hope that this book will assist as that dialogue continues. My wish is that this book will further the debate and that my work can be used by devotees as a means of informing and continuing the process. I also wanted to present the community with an objective analysis of how their religion is changing. That might seem presumptuous on my part, but I have tried wherever possible to have people speak in their own voices so that it is their voices that inform and articulate the debate. Thus, the audience for this book became directed more and more towards the community itself and less towards the scholarly community. Naturally, I

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