Alvare, “Haile Selasse and the Gospel of Development”

Alvare, Bretton. 2014. Haile Selasse and the Gospel of Development: Hegemony and Faith-Based Development in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19(1): 126-147.

AbstractThis article explores the process by which faith-based nongovernmental organizations (FBOs) incorporate, reproduce, and contest hegemonic constructions of development as they attempt to bring the fruits of development to their local communities. The analysis focuses on the National Rastafari Organization (NRO) of Trinidad and Tobago—a small, grassroots FBO, whose leaders designed and implemented a localcommunity development program that, despite being modeled on the Rastafari principles contained in Haile Selassie’s “gospel of development,“ had more in common with the neoliberal national development program being promoted by the Trinidadian government than with the development programs typical of other formal Rastafari organizations in the wider Caribbean region. The NRO did not hold all of the themes, logics, or recommended practices of this gospel of development in the same regard. Instead, their immersion in hegemonic fields led them to seize on those aspects that resonated most with the state discourses of neoliberal participatory development in circulation at the time.

Chipumuro, “Breaking Bread with the Brethren: Fraternalism and Text in a Black Atlantic Church Community”

Chipumuro Todne Thomas. 2012. Breaking Bread with the Brethren: Fraternalism and Text in a Black Atlantic Church Community. Journal of African American Studies 16(4):604–621 

Abstract:  This ethnographic article examines the constitution of brotherhood at Dixon Bible Chapel (DBC)—a West Indian and African American Brethren church community located in Lithonia, Georgia, a suburb of the Atlanta metropolitan area. Based on my analysis of interview, oral history, and church historical texts collected during fieldwork from 2006 to 2008, I propose that DBC members conceptualize brotherhood as an egalitarian, closely knit form of religious belonging inspired by New Testament representations of the church. Furthermore, I argue that is through DBC brothers’ textual rituals that brotherhood is substantiated as a framework for male democratic religious participation and leadership. Though hierarchies of class, ethnicity, gender, and generation segment the ranks of DBC brotherhood and the church community writ large, church members invest in brotherhood as a social formation that they believe sidesteps the exclusions of mainstream religious institutions. Extending the implications of DBC brotherhood to the present issue’s emphasis of black fraternal organizations, I pose questions about the meanings and salience of fraternalism as a social model for Afro-diasporic institution building.