The Caribbean and the Atlantic World

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses
Sophomore and above—Year

The Caribbean is Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico—and it is also Venezuela, New Orleans, southern Florida, and the coastal areas of Central America settled by runaway and shipwrecked slaves. The Caribbean speaks Spanish, English, Creole, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Papamiento, Garifuna, and Miskitu. It is an area of tremendous diversity but linked by common experiences of African slavery, colonial domination, underdevelopment, nationalism, and revolution. This course examines the history and culture of the Caribbean from 1492 to the present, with special emphasis on its place in the world: a source of unprecedented wealth built by the labor of enslaved Africans; a hot-spot of international competition, piracy, and war; a crossroads of goods, ideas, and people; and, in the 20th century, a region struggling to be more than an “American lake.” We will pay particular attention to Haiti and Cuba, whose democratic and socialist revolutions had an impact in the Americas as powerful as the other, better-known “great revolutions” of the 18th and 20th centuries. We will use monographs that represent a variety of different historical methodologies (social, economic, cultural, Atlantic, environmental, and gender history), primary sources, and representations of Caribbean reality in film, literature, and art.