2010-11 Catalog

Decorative graphic

Offering Description

Caribbean Cultural Crossings

Fall quarter

Faculty: Tom Womeldorff economics

Fields of Study: cultural studies, economics and history

Fall: CRN (Credit) Level 10371 (16) Fr; 10373 (16) So - Sr; 10640 (1-16)  

Credits: 16(F)

Class Standing: Freshmen - Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmenFreshmen - Senior

Offered During: Day


In the late 1700s, Europeans saw the Caribbean as one vast sugar plantation controlled by French, English, Spanish and Dutch colonial powers. The insatiable need for labor decimated local populations who were replaced by millions of African slaves and, after emancipation, indentured labor from East India and China. Historically, this represents the largest forced mixing of cultures; the result was a host of new Caribbean identities, all developing in the context of the political, economic and ideological structures imposed by Europeans. Today, the identities and cultural expressions of all Caribbean peoples continue to be shaped by the colonial legacy and the rise of post-colonial consciousness. But despite the region's shared colonial legacy, a sense of a common Caribbean identity should not be exaggerated. A Guadeloupian is more connected psychologically and physically to Paris then she is to Puerto Rico.

Out of this intense forced mixing of cultures, what forms of identity emerged and continue to emerge? Is there such a thing as a Caribbean culture, or are identities complex amalgams which defy easy categorizations such as Caribbean, Dominican American, creole Martiniquen, Afro-Cuban, East-Indian Trinidadian? What are the factors that make the identities of each island's peoples similar and in what ways do they defy categorization--even on a single island? These will be the questions at the center of this program. We will begin with an exploration of the colonial legacy with close attention to the political and economic forms central to extracting sugar profits from land and laborers. We will explore the impact of diverse political statuses such as independence (e.g., Jamaica), complete incorporation with the motherland (Martinique) and more nebulous forms in between (Puerto Rico). We will investigate how migration and globalization continue to play a major role in shaping local realities.

Readings will be diverse from fiction (e.g., Condé's Crossing the Mangrove) to World-Systems Theory (e.g., Grosfoguel on Puerto Rico). In addition to shared readings, lectures and films, each student will engage in two projects. First, each student will complete a comprehensive overview of one island. This will be followed by a project of the student's choosing, such as cultural expression through music and art, political status, religious syncretism, post-colonial literature, globalization, or migrant identities abroad.

Maximum Enrollment: 24

Required Fees: Fall $125 for overnight field trip.

Preparatory for studies or careers in: cultural studies, political economy, international relations, and economic development.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: Enhanced Online Learning

Books: www.tescbookstore.com