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Continuity, communion and the dread: the Maori Rastafari of Ruatoria, Aotearoa-New Zeland

Robinson, Dave (2013) Continuity, communion and the dread: the Maori Rastafari of Ruatoria, Aotearoa-New Zeland. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis is based upon ethnographic field research conducted in and around the predominantly Māori-populated town of Ruatoria; a small rural settlement situated in the sparsely inhabited heartland of the iwi (tribe), Ngāti Porou, on the east coast of Aotearoa-New Zealand’s North Island. The thesis investigates the apparent paradox concerning how and why the Jamaican Rastafari movement appeals to, and has invigorated, rather than obliterated the Māoritanga (Māori culture) of a group of Ngāti Porou who self-identify as ‘The Dread’. Thus far, anthropological analyses of the Rastafari movement have tended to characterise its manifestation as a religion of protest, a religion of resistance or a religion of the post-colonially oppressed. In this thesis I destabilise such interpretations by demonstrating that we can best understand The Dread’s assimilation of Rastafari through their articulation of aspects of Māori cosmology charged with promoting communion with God, gods and ancestors. Theoretically, this thesis combines traditional ethnographic explorations of hierarchy, identity, myth and comparative Rastafari, with more recent approaches to the anthropological study of ontology, cosmology, human-ancestor and human-environment relations. I also consider key methodological implications that attention to the latter analytical approaches ensue. By situating my analysis of The Dread’s articulation of cosmology and mythic narrative at the interface of ontology and agency, I tease out what I term the ‘divergent mono-ontological perspectives’ that emanate from disagreements between the primordial siblings over whether to instigate the creation of the cosmos and individuation through an act of rupture, or to remain united within the original cosmogonic whole. As the first ethnographic study to locate an occurrence of Rastafari discourse within an ontological context, this thesis contributes to the literature on Māori cosmology by elucidating the mediation of tensions between autonomy and unity thatcontinues to inform intra-tribal relational dynamics in the Māori present.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Dave Robinson
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Scott, Michael and Deborah, Deborah
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3217

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