Religion, Diaspora, and Cultural Identity: A Reader in the Anglophone Caribbean by John W. Pulis
This volume brings together the work of fourteen scholars of West Indian religious beliefs and practices. It will be a handy guide for future research, especially since the chapters, taken together, usefully summarize the literature to date on religion in the Caribbean and in Caribbean diasporic communities. The editor is to be commended for providing a sense of coherence to the very disparate case studies presented here. The analytical focus of the book is the formation of West Indian religiosity in the diaspora- and, indeed, as Aisha Khan puts it forcefully in her contribution, of the very idea of religion itself, constructed as a cultural and an analytical domain separate from other domains of social life. Refusing to view Caribbean religion as either made up of timeless traditions or as cut from whole cloth, and resisting temptations to see diaspora as a unidirectional flow from the Caribbean to immigrant communities in North America or to view cultural hegemony as a process emanating from North America southwards, the volume's contributors see diaspora itself destabilizing the traditional/modern dichotomy. Several contributors reveal the utter embeddedness of rational secularism and modernity, with their narratives of progress and development, in dominant Western religious cosmologies, and Caribbean religions' implicatedness in the constitution of specifically West Indian modernities at home and abroad.