Anna Kasafi Perkins
Dr Anna Kasafi Perkins is a former dean of studies and lecturer at St Michael’s Theological College, Jamaica, an institute of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston and an affiliated institution of The University of the West Indies, Mona. Since 2007, she has been a Senior Programme Officer with the Quality Assurance Unit in The University of the West Indies’s (UWI) Office of the Board for Undergraduate Studies and adjunct faculty at St Michael’s Theological College. Dr Perkins holds a doctorate in theological ethics from Boston College. She teaches and researches in ethics, justice, popular culture, sexuality, theology, scripture, and quality assurance. She serves on The UWI in various capacities including as a vice president of the Union and a member of The UWI COVID-19 Task Force. Her service to the community includes, being a Commissioner of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) and Chair of the BCJ Licensing, Monitoring & Compliance Subcommittee; member of the National Bioethics Committee of Jamaica; and the Jamaica Council of Churches’ representation on the Legal Aid Council of Jamaica.
She is a published author of books, book chapters and journal articles. Her most recent publications are Ethics Amidst COVID-19: A Brief Ethics Handbook for Caribbean Policymakers and Leaders (2020), co-authored with Professor R. Clive Landis, and Rough Riding: Tanya Stephens and the Power of Music to Transform Society (2021), co-edited with Adwoa Onuora and Ajamu Nangwaya.
“RastafarI and domestic labour: Menstrual Taboos and Western Inequality”
RastafarI emerged in colonial Jamaica as outcasts from the society due to their Afro-centric religio-cultural challenge to the Babylonian Shitstem. In particular, their adoption of dreadlocks “symbolised both the construction of a greater social distance from Jamaican colonial society and the perception of Rastafari by the society as derelicts and outcasts” (Besson 1998, 44). This outcast status has changed significantly and RastafarI has become largely secularised. Many Rastas resist this secularisation and one of the areas in which some Rastas determine to remain separated from Jamaican society is in their refusal to work in the Babylon Shitstem, expressed in their emphasis on self-sufficiency and eating from the earth. Both family and communal life are organised to reject ways of understanding work in the larger Jamaican society, which maintains distinct spheres for females and males, though even that is changing, slowly. Nonetheless, in family life, in particular, Rastamen generally remain distinctive; they take a more active and affective role in domestic labour than their non-Rastafarian counterparts while maintaining patriarchal norms of male headship and female inferiority.
This presentation explores the question of domestic labour within the Rastafarian community, specifically the domestic roles in the Rastafarian family. It argues that the distinctive role of Rastamen within the household is the direct result of both the importance of the children (“yootz”) and Rasta biblically based menstrual taboos, the most extreme form of which is seen among the Bobo Ashanti mansion. The Rastaman’s woman (“daata”) is relegated during her menses and so is not allowed to cook or mingle with the men. It concludes that Rastamen have internalized unequal gender viewpoints from the Bible and Western bourgeois notions of male as the head of the household/nuclear family with his wife and children dependent on his wage, guidance and teaching. It proposes insights from female Rasta scholars as part of the process of “imparting” (contributing and impacting) domestic labour in RastafarI.