Leonard E. Barrett

Leonard E. Barrett Senior (1920 in Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica – June 3, 2007 in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania)[1] was a Jamaican-American professor of religion and anthropology known for his foundational work on Rastafarianism.


He was born in Jamaica in 1920.[2][3] He was ordained as a Methodist minister, then migrated to the United States during the 1940s.[2] He received a bachelor's degree from Albright College, then was the pastor of an evangelical church in Pennsylvania.[2] He received a master's of divinity from United Theological Seminary in 1961, then a master's degree in history in 1962 and a doctorate in comparative religion and anthropology in 1967 from Temple University.[2]

His dissertation, completed at Temple University, was published as The Rastafarians: a study of Messianic cultism in Jamaica in 1969.[4][5] His book Soul-Force: African Heritage in Afro-American Religion was a finalist for the National Book Award for Philosophy And Religion in 1975.[6][7] His book The Rastafarians: the Dreadlocks of Jamaica was reviewed favorably in the 1970s by academics and has become one of the standard anthropological examinations of the religious movement.[3][4] It was republished on its twentieth anniversary in 1997.[8] He published widely on various aspects of religious or spiritual life in Jamaica.[9] Barrett also contributed to reference texts in the field of religion.[10]

He was a professor at Temple University.[11] He also taught at colleges in Jamaica, Connecticut, and Puerto Rico.[2]

Awards and honorsEdit

In 1983, he was awarded the Alumni Citation Award from Albright College.[12]

His life inspired one of his sons, Terry Lee Barrett, to write a semi-autobiographical novel based on the stories his father told him about Jamaican religion and spirituality.[13]


  • The Rastafarians: a study of Messianic cultism in Jamaica, Caribbean monograph series, no. 6. (Puerto Rico: University of Puerto Rico, Institute of Caribbean Studies, 1969).[14]
  • Soul-Force: African Heritage in Afro-American Religion, C. Eric Lincoln Series on Black Religion (New York: Anchor Press, 1974).[15]
  • The Rastafarians: the Dreadlocks of Jamaica (Kingston, Jamaica: Sangster's Book Stores, 1977). OCLC 932266388
    • Reprinted in 1978,[16] 1979,[17] 1981,[18] 1982.[19]
    • A revised and updated edition titled The Rastafarians: the Sounds of Cultural Difference was published in 1988 that included new research and a new afterword.[20]
    • It was also republished in a 20th anniversary edition in 1997, titled The Rastafarians;[8] this was republished in 2014.[21]
    • It was also translated into Japanese in 1996.[22]
  • The Sun and the Drum: African roots in Jamaican folk tradition Kingston, (Jamaica: Sangster's Book Stores, in association with Heinemann, 1979).[23]


  1. ^ "Leonard E. Barrett Sr. Obituary (2003)". Legacy. The Philadelphia Inquirer. June 11, 2003. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lathrop, Stacy (September 2003). "Rites of Passage". Anthropology News. American Anthropological Association. 44 (6): 55.
  3. ^ a b Ojo-Ade, Femi (1979). "Review of The Rastafarians". The Journal of Modern African Studies. 17 (2): 349–357. doi:10.1017/S0022278X00005619. ISSN 0022-278X. JSTOR 160735. S2CID 154725840.
  4. ^ a b Turner, H. W. (1980). "Review of The Rastafarians. The Dreadlocks of Jamaica". Journal of Religion in Africa. 11 (2): 154–155. doi:10.2307/1581263. ISSN 0022-4200. JSTOR 1581263.
  5. ^ Simpson, George E. (1970). "Review of The Rastafarians: A Study in Messianic Cultism in Jamaica". Caribbean Studies. 10 (3): 195–197. ISSN 0008-6533. JSTOR 25612331.
  6. ^ "Soul-Force: African Heritage in Afro-American Religion". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  7. ^ Winters, Clyde (1976). "Review of The African Dimension in Latin American Societies; Soul Force: African Heritage in Afro-American Religion; Santeria: African Magic in Latin America". The Journal of Modern African Studies. 14 (1): 175–177. doi:10.1017/S0022278X00024150. ISSN 0022-278X. JSTOR 159663.
  8. ^ a b Barrett, Leonard (1997-12-12). The Rastafarians: Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-1039-6.
  9. ^ Barrett, Leonard (1973). "The Portrait of a Jamaican Healer: African Medical Lore in the Caribbean". Caribbean Quarterly. 19 (3): 6–19. doi:10.1080/00086495.1973.11829159. ISSN 0008-6495. JSTOR 23050210.
  10. ^ Barrett, Leonard H. (1988). "The African heritage in Caribbean and North American religions". In Lippy, Charles H. (ed.). Encyclopedia of the American religious experience: studies of traditions and movements. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 978-0-684-18062-5. OCLC 15366525.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  11. ^ "Dr. Leonard E. Barrett [photograph]". Temple University. Retrieved 2022-02-01. Dr. Leonard E. Barrett, of Temple University's English department, is photographed in his office.
  12. ^ "Alumni Awards". Albright College. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  13. ^ Barrett, Terry Lee (2021-06-21). Kata, the Iron Thorn. BookBaby. ISBN 978-0-578-78559-2.
  14. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1969). The Rastafarians: a study of Messianic cultism in Jamaica. Rio Picdras, Puerto Rico: U. of Puerto Rico, Institute of Caribbean Studies. OCLC 1044031082.
  15. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1974). Soul-force: African heritage in Afro-American religion. New York: Anchor Press. ISBN 978-0-385-07410-0. OCLC 463014195.
  16. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1978). The rastafarians: the dreadlocks of Jamaica. London: Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-435-89458-0. OCLC 185780914.
  17. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1979). The Rastafarians: the dreadlocks of Jamaica. Kingston: Sangster's Book Stores [etc. ISBN 978-0-435-89458-0. OCLC 899021904.
  18. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1981). The Rastafarians: the dreadlocks of Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica: Sangster's Book Stores. OCLC 609579682.
  19. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1982). The Rastafarians: the dreadlocks of Jamaica. Kingston; Heinemann: Jamaica : Sangster's Book stores. ISBN 978-0-435-89458-0. OCLC 461779034.
  20. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1988). The Rastafarians: sounds of cultural dissonance. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-1027-3. OCLC 1203622504.
  21. ^ Barrett, Leonard (2014). The rastafarians: twentieth anniversary edition. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-9705-2. OCLC 869300549.
  22. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1996). Rasutafarianzu (in Japanese). Translated by Hiroyasu Yamada. Tokyo. ISBN 978-4-582-82897-9. OCLC 674845525.
  23. ^ Barrett, Leonard E (1979). The sun and the drum: African roots in Jamaican folk tradition. Kingston, Jamaica: Sangster's Book Stores, in association with Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-435-89454-2. OCLC 638470877.