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MSc International Relations of the Americas
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AMERG013: The Caribbean from the Haitian Revolution to the Cuban Revolution

Course convenor: Dr Kate Quinn

Outline

The development of Caribbean societies is crucial to our understanding of capitalism, imperialism, race, development and the mass movement of peoples, products and ideas that have shaped the modern world. From the founding of the first black republic in the Americas to the founding of the first socialist revolutionary state in the Americas, this course examines the emergence of Caribbean nationhood in a region which experienced globalisation and multi-culturalism long before the terms came into vogue.

Beginning with the cataclysmic events of the Haitian revolution, the early seminars will examine the crucial foundations of Caribbean societies: slavery and the slave economy; colonialism and resistance to colonialism; labour and migration; race and the development of creole society; and the emergence of the US as the most significant external player in the region. The later seminars will assess the various political systems and political economies that emerged during the course of the twentieth century, from the authoritarian excesses of Rafael Trujillo and ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, to the Westminster model of the Anglophone Caribbean, to the ambivalent neo-colonial status of Puerto Rico and the French départements d’outre mer, and lastly, the revolutionary society of Castro’s Cuba. Broadly, the course covers the long struggle for Caribbean independence and sovereignty, examining the fraught and often ambiguous relationship between the region and a series of metropolitan powers: Spain, France, Britain, the United States, and even the USSR.

All the main cultures of the region – Anglophone, Hispanic and French – will be considered in a course which emphasises a strongly ‘Caribbean’ approach to the issues at hand.

This course can be taken as a single unit or in conjunction with ‘Politics, Society and Development in the Modern Caribbean’.

The course is assessed by means of a 4,000 word essay.

Introductory Reading

  • C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins [1938] Penguin, 2001
  • Verene Shepherd and Hilary Beckles, Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World, Ian Randle, 2000
  • Michael Craton, Empire, Enslavement and Freedom in the Caribbean, Ian Randle, 1997
  • Verene Shepherd and Hilary Beckles (eds), Caribbean Freedom: Economy and Society from Emancipation to the Present, Markus Wiener, 1996
  • UNESCO, General History of the Caribbean, Vol V The Caribbean in the Twentieth Century, UNESCO, 2004
  • Anthony Maingot, The United States and the Caribbean: synergies of a complex interdependence, 1994
  • Gordon Lewis, The Growth of the Modern West Indies [1968], Ian Randle, 2004
  • Denis Benn, The Caribbean: an Intellectual History 1774-2003, Ian Randle, 2004
  • V. S. Naipaul, The Middle Passage [1962], Picador, 2001
  • Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro: the history of the Caribbean, 1492-1969, Andre Deutsch, 1970