One of the first things any visitor to Barbados notices is Barbadian youths wearing baseball caps and T-shirts sporting the logos of North American teams; and these days, one is more likely to find an American sitcom on television than a Caribbean program. The Parish behind God's Back describes the social fabric and everyday life of one rural parish on the island, St. Lucy, including its many links to the outside world. It is a contemporary ethnography of the local that takes into account the enormous influence of global factors such as tourism, television, foreign travel, and return migrants.
Written with students in mind, the book contains several unique features. Each chapter blends descriptions of Barbadian culture with comparisons to North America; throughout, the authors include tales of not only their own fieldwork experiences but those of their undergraduate students; and personal narratives are emphasized to engage interest in individuals.
This highly readable and thought-provoking account should appeal to general readers with an interest in the Caribbean as well as to students of anthropology.
George Gmelch is Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, Union College. Sharon Bohn Gmelch is Professor of Anthropology and Director of Women's Studies, Union College.