Monique Bedasse

Monique Bedasse

Associate Professor of History and of African and African-American Studies
PhD, University of Miami
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    • Washington University
      CB 1062
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    Professor Bedasse is a historian of Africa and the African diaspora, with a focus on East Africa and the Caribbean. Based on a deep interest in transnational histories, her work moves betwixt and between regions that have traditionally been calcified into separate fields of study. Her interests include the intellectual, political, and social history of decolonization, black internationalism and African diasporic politics.

    Her first monograph, Jah Kingdom: Rastafarians, Tanzania, and Pan-Africanism in the age of Decolonization was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2017. Jah Kingdom is an intellectual, political and social history of how continental Africans from Tanzania and diasporic Africans from Jamaica worked together within the context of anti-colonial struggle. Specifically, it traces how Jamaican Rastafarians sought the ideological and practical realization of repatriation to Africa in post-independence Tanzania. It is a history that reveals both the promise and the limitations of diasporic solidarities and pan-African politics. Jah Kingdom was awarded the American Historical Association’s Wesley-Logan Prize for best book on the African Diaspora, and the Anna Julia Cooper and CLR James Award for best book in Africana Studies from the National Council for Black Studies. A Choice Outstanding Academic title, Jah Kingdom was also a finalist for the Albert Raboteau prize for best book in Africana religions.

     

    Jah Kingdom Rastafarians, Tanzania, and Pan-Africanism in the Age of Decolonization

    Jah Kingdom Rastafarians, Tanzania, and Pan-Africanism in the Age of Decolonization

    From its beginnings in 1930s Jamaica, the Rastafarian movement has become a global presence. While the existing studies of the Rastafarian movement have primarily focused on its cultural expression through reggae music, art, and iconography, Monique A. Bedasse argues that repatriation to Africa represents the most important vehicle of Rastafari’s international growth. Shifting the scholarship on repatriation from Ethiopia to Tanzania, Bedasse foregrounds Rastafari’s enduring connection to black radical politics and establishes Tanzania as a critical site to explore gender, religion, race, citizenship, socialism, and nation. Beyond her engagement with how the Rastafarian idea of Africa translated into a lived reality, she demonstrates how Tanzanian state and nonstate actors not only validated the Rastafarian idea of diaspora but were also crucial to defining the parameters of Pan-Africanism.

    Based on previously undiscovered oral and written sources from Tanzania, Jamaica, England, the United States, and Trinidad, Bedasse uncovers a vast and varied transnational network--including Julius Nyerere, Michael Manley, and C. L. R James--revealing Rastafari’s entrenchment in the making of Pan-Africanism in the postindependence period.

     

    Winner of Wesley-Logan Prize, American Historical Association (2018)

    Winner of Anna Julia Cooper and C.L.R. James Award, National Council for Black Studies