Abstracts – Special Issue: Negotiating Religions and Cultural Identities in Caribbean Societies
By Latoya Lazarus-Guest Editor
More than Words: Evangelicals, the Rhetoric of Battle and the Fight over Gay Rights in the Caribbean
by Anna Kasafi Perkins
Little attention has been given to the way local and transnational religious and civil society groups are actively involved in shaping the socio-political space in the Anglophone Caribbean. This discussion attempts to contribute to that much needed exploration using the idea of a battle engaged, which is deployed by local and U.S. churches and church-related groups in describing the struggle with their opponents. It explores examples of the public engagement by these opposing factions on the issue of homosexuality and LGBT rights using the examples of predominantly Jamaica and Belize. It tentatively approaches the question of the impact of such a battle on the discourse in the public square. Public campaigns through media appearances, conferences, marches, public meetings, legal opinions and challenges, public lectures featuring US-based Evangelical speakers, advertorials, pamphlets, billboards, and letters to the paper are artefacts indicating the fight in the public domain. Therefore, these along with census data, newspaper reports and advertisements, as well as literature from the various groups will be analysed in the discussion. On reflection it is clear that real life damage can be done to the lives of those persons even with the best of intentions, as has been demonstrated in the examples drawn from Belize and Jamaica. This is referred to as the ‘dark side of virtue’ and should not be ignored by either side (Kennedy in Blake and Daley 2013, p. 468). Some of those affected may not even be directly the focus of the campaign, as in the case of lesbians in the Caribbean.
Key words: Evangelical, Religious Right, LGBT, transnational religion, Jamaica, homosexuality
by Haajima Degia
This article presents primary research on the emergent identities of members of an ethno-religious minority group in Barbados: the Gujarati-Muslims. Located within the broader Indian population of Barbados, Gujarati-Muslim migration commenced at the turn of the twentieth century. It is a group which has inserted itself into the Barbadian society as a well-defined religious group and a significant business class.
This article addresses the complex ways in which Gujarati-Muslims in Barbados perceive and interpret their identities. The data for this study reveals that the identities of the members of the Gujarati ethnic group are emergent, and in a state of flux. Drawing on theories of creolisation, the work argues that Gujarati- Muslims, especially those of the third and fourth generations, perceive themselves as having hybrid identities.
Key words: Gujarati-Muslims, business class, hybrid identities, creolisation
by Sinah Theres Kloß
Hinduism in Guyana consists of various traditions and subgroups such as the Sanatan, Madras, and Arya Samaj traditions. Influenced by various historical conditions and the dominant Christian influence, members of the so-called Sanatan tradition have sought to establish their practices as the ‘Great’ or Sankritic Hindu tradition, for example through sanskritisation processes. In this context, specific practices such as possession rites and animal sacrifices were defined as inappropriate and excluded from mainstream Hinduism in Guyana, creating orthodoxy. These ‘inappropriate’ practices were consolidated in what is today known as the Madras tradition or Kali-Mai Puja, a shaktistic tradition which continues to be marginalised and stigmatised in contemporary society.
Highlighting how members of the various Hindu traditions seek to establish and legitimise their traditions, this article demonstrates that these traditions are constructed in relation to each other and that they are based on socio-cultural othering processes within the heterogeneous ‘Indian’ ethnic group in Guyana. Based on participant observation and ethnographic interviews, this anthropological contribution discusses that the Madras tradition is an ‘invented’ yet ‘authentic’ tradition and elaborates how various socio-political conditions have led to phases of its revitalisation. It raises questions such as: what has caused the resurgence of the Madras tradition in the 1980s besides the economic crisis and authoritarian rule? What role do Madrassi healing rites have for the popularity of the tradition? How is the growing significance of Pentecostalism and charismatic Christianity influencing Hindu traditions in contemporary Guyana?
Key words: Hinduism, Sanskritisation, Madras Tradition,
Contextualising the Psychology of Spiritual Development among Caribbean Emerging Adults: Correlates with Healthy Family Relationships, Peer Associations and Drug Use
by Mia Jules and Donna-Maria B. Maynard
Although a sizable body of research has examined the socio-demographic correlates of religious involvement within the African Diaspora, few have been conducted about spirituality among Black Caribbean youth. This study: (a) interrogates the construct of ‘spirituality’; (b) discusses the positive role of interfaith youth groups within the Caribbean; (c) posits a psychological explanation of the period of emerging adulthood and the associated psychosocial characteristics which facilitate spiritual development among this demographic; and, (d) quantitatively explores the relationships among spirituality, drug use, peer associations and family relations in Black Caribbean emerging adults. It was found that with an increase in the level of spirituality, the greater the likelihood that an emerging adult would experience healthy family functioning, positive peer associations and be less likely to engage in alcohol and marijuana use.
Key words: spirituality, emerging adults, peer associations, drug use.
Return Migrations from Metropolitan France: a Qualitative Study of Representations of Otherness in Martinique
by Aude Lanthier
This article underlines the inclination to consider Martinican return migrants from France as a new type of ‘outsider’, that is, as a cultural ‘Other’. As it shall be argued, this new trend is revealing another dimension of otherness as well as a new configuration of Martinique postcolonial relationship with the French Republic. Empirical data analysis from ethnographic fieldwork highlighted the cross-representations between the returnees and the local inhabitants and enabled an innovative understanding of the new modalities of alterity in Martinique. Moreover, this article focuses on return migrants’ professional and family readjustment difficulties once back ‘home’.
Key words: Martinique, Return Migrations, Cultural Otherness, Readjustment Difficulties.