Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This thesis takes a close look at the lived world of Jamaican Rastafarians through the lens of food-related practices and preferences, working to define the group's characteristic strategies for maintaining wellness and illuminating their tastes and sensibilities. It strives to evoke a sensorial and discursive awareness of the activities through which Rastafarians nourish and heal their physical and social bodies, by focusing on ways in which they produce and use I-tal food-medicines. Rastafarian taste for I-tal has developed alongside collective engagement with the valorization and revitalization of traditional knowledge about health and land use. In addition to providing sites for bodily nourishment, food-related practices have become historically, politically, and culturally significant "ways of operating" (de Certeau 1984:xiv) in the Rastafarian lived world. First historicizing the emergence of the taste for I-tal and discussing how this preference has become embedded in Rastafarian ideology and ecology, I then demonstrate how and why Rastafarians objectify and manifest this taste in dietary norms, in culinary preparation and arrangement of kitchen spaces, and in medicine production and therapy. My goals are threefold: to illuminate the Rastafarian taste for I-tal and sensibility for natural living; to evoke a sensorial and discursive awareness of the everyday practices and strategies Rastafarians use in building, cleansing, and encouraging bodily growth; also, to show how and why my Rastafarian informants, in particular, struggle to maintain control over commoditization of I-tal products and related cooking-healing practices.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Helen A. Regis