Barry Chevannes was a graduate of St George’s College and gained his B.A. (Philosophy) and M.A. from Boston College, his Master's in sociology at the University of the West Indies (UWI), and his doctorate in applied anthropology from Columbia University, where he defended his thesis on the Rastafari movement in Jamaica.
His publications in this area have made him one of the leading international scholars on the Rastafari. They include Rastafari: Roots and Ideology and scores of articles in learned journals. His edited collection, Rastafari and Other African Caribbean Worldviews was nominated for the 1995 Katherine Briggs Award in the United Kingdom.
He was well known for his public service. He chaired the Council of the Institute of Jamaica, was the founder of Fathers Incorporated, and of Partners for Peace, and is recognized for his original contribution to Jamaican folk and religious song heritage. He was also a member of the Peace Management Initiative of the Minister of National Security, Chairman of the Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force and Co-chair of the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development.
On November 5, Professor Chevannes lost his struggle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife Paulette and two daughters. Today many mourners poured onto the grounds of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus, not for classes, but to pay their last respects to this great man. The chapel was filled with people from Bruce Golding to Portia Simpson Miller and Edward Sega. government officials and dignitaries.