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The CLR James Journal

Volume 25, Issue 1/2, Fall 2019

Leslie R. James
Pages 195-219

“Livity” and the Hermeneutics of the Self
Constituting the Ground of Rastafari Subjectivity

This paper explores the concept of “livity,” the ground of Rastafari subjectivity. In its multifaceted nuances, “livity” represents the Rastafari invention of a religious tradition and discourse, whose ethos was fundamentally sacred, signified the immanence of the Absolute in dialectic with the Rastafari worldview and life world. Innovatively, the Rastafari coined the term “livity” to a discourse to combat despair, damnation, social death, and the existential chaos-monde they referred to as Babylon. In the process, the Rastafari reclaimed their power to name their world. The Rastafari neologism “livity” articulated a mysticism, alternative spatial visions, and a positive technology of the self that revalorized blackness, explored, and interrogated profound dimensions of the human condition, from within the Jamaican context, that inevitably brought them into conflict with the local colonial authorities and implicitly shifted the model of social relations between the master and slave.

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