Archival Resistance: Rastafari Women in Britain

Archival Resistance is an online event exploring the moving, living and visual archives of Rastafari women in Britain. The live event has been curated by Aleema Gray and will feature discussions with Sister Rasheda Malcolm and June Givanni. The live event will run alongside the film Omega Rising Women of Rastafari which will be available to stream on the Cinema of Ideas platform from 19 Aug – 2 Sep.

From roots-reggae to calls for reparatory justice, the Rastafari movement has significantly shaped Britain’s social and cultural fabric. Since their emergence in Jamaica, Rastafari has pioneered a critical mode of analysis that centred the historically oppressed. While the movement at large has been subject to a number of false caricatures, the experiences of Rastafari women remains significantly under-researched.

Drawing on the work of Elmina Davis in her film, Omega Rising Women of Rastafari, which will screen alongside the discussion, this event spotlights the overlooked lived dimension of Rastafari for women in Britain. It calls into question the possibilities of the archive as a radical space, while foregrounding new ways of approaching community histories on the margins.

FILM: Omega Rising Women of Rastafari

A groundbreaking documentary, Omega Rising Women of Rastafari (1988) was the first film to explore and challenge myths and stereotypes about the Rastafarian movement; and give voice to women of Rastafari, who speak for themselves about their relationship to the movement and its development.

A self-taught camerawoman who began her career documenting community issues in Tottenham, D. Elmina Davis was a Rastafarian herself and had travelled extensively in Africa and the Caribbean. Poetry, mythology, archive footage, interviews, music and dance are skilfully folded into her film’s narrative, revealing the journey to higher consciousness for Jamaican and British Rastafarian women. Interviewees include Judy Mowatt, reggae solo artist and a member of Bob Marley’s backing trio, The I Three.

Davis was one of the founder members of the Ceddo Film and Video Workshop, an important grouping of filmmakers whose work through the 1980s was characterised by a radical left-wing critique of British society’s treatment of Black British people, and an interest in African and Caribbean politics and history.

Dir: D. Elmina Davis | UK | 1988 | 52 mins | U

Combined tickets for Archival Resistance: Women of Rastafari Panel Discussion and Omega Rising Women of Rastafari cost £7 and are available to book now.

SPEAKERS

 

Aleema Gray
Aleema Gray is Community History Curator at the Museum of London and a PhD researcher at Warwick University. Her research is funded by the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies and uncovers a community-engaged history of the Rastafari movement in England.

Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm
Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm is a journalist, author, and playwright with a passion for empowering women and girls.

June Givanni
June Givanni is a London-based film curator, archivist and international consultant in African and African diaspora cinema for more than 35 years. She is Director of the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive. Among many things she set up and ran the BFI’s African and Caribbean Film Unit and created the Black Film Bulletin with Gaylene Gould, programmed ‘Planet Africa’ at the Toronto International Film Festival, and is known for her knowledge and experience in the field of Pan African cinema generally.

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