Fire Pon Rome: Rastafari, Fascism and 21st Century Democracy

26 November 2020, 17:00 - 19:00


This is an online event hosted via Zoom. Online Registration will be open soon.


Robbie Shilliam (Johns Hopkins University, USA)



A number of commentators have equated Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016 to Mussolini's 1922 march on Rome. Has fascism returned to threaten Western democracies again? This talk addresses this question by reference to a movement of faith that has, since the early 1930s, sounded the warning about Rome. Most people are familiar with the term "Babylon", which in Rastafari pertains to an iniquitous system under which humanity suffers and which must be replaced by making heaven (Zion) on earth. Fewer people might know that, in Rastafari, Babylon is synonymous with Rome. Why Rome? To address this question takes us on a journey through the inter-war period of the 20th century and the struggle against Italian fascism which pivoted around Mussolini's 1935 invasion of sovereign Ethiopia. Commitment to the struggle spanned Caribbean and African colonies, North America and Europe, and included Black and white activists, community leaders, establishment figures and rebels. What bound them all together was an understanding that to be anti-fascist one had to - at the same time - be anti-colonial. Rastafari as a faith and movement was tempered in this crucible. Using this history, how might we, today, think with greater clarity about the struggle between democracy and fascism?



An event organised by Subaltern and Decolonial Citizenships Research Network

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