This course seeks to introduce students to the varied peoples and cultures in the Caribbean region, including the historical, colonial, and contemporary political-economic contexts, as well as the religious, migratory, and other cultural practices. The Caribbean is composed of several islands united by the experiences of indigenous decimation, European colonization, and re-population largely by imported laborers from Africa and/or Asia. The colonial/linguistic group will serve to organize our understanding of the multiple experiences in the region, however the longstanding experiences of West/non-West intermingling is the umbrella that unites the region even into the present post-colonial era of U.S. dominance of the region.

This course fulfills the Cultural and Gender Diversity core curriculum requirement in its attention to Non-Western Cultures. However, the course readings and lectures will expose students to a region that is difficult to understand from an essentialist perspective. We shall learn that neither the West nor the non-West can be found in its “pure” form in the Caribbean. Indeed, the focus on the region’s longstanding and continuing globalizing role will serve to question how effective such fixed categories are in today’s world. So while the course will broaden students understanding of this non-Western group specifically, it will also hopefully lead them to understand the West and the non-West to be complexly integrated with one another.

This course’s primary objective is to expand students’ understandings of racial, ethnic, and gender categories. To that end, the categories of gender and race will be analyzed and deconstructed throughout the course using texts from anthropology, history, policy, film, and music.