UCL Institute of the Americas


AMER0011: Politics, Society and Development in the Modern Caribbean

Module convenor: Dr Kate Quinn


The second half of the twentieth century marks a watershed in the history of the Caribbean. Guerrilla warfare in Cuba and the achievement of independence in the formerly British colonies transformed the political map of the region. Beginning with the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and ending with the controversial ousting of Haiti's Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004, this course examines the key issues and events that have shaped the development of the modern Caribbean. Issues for analysis include the struggles for political, economic and cultural independence; the implications of colonial and neo-colonial relations with both Europe and the United States; the legacies of a diverse racial heritage and the complex relations between ethnicity and power; the effects of mass migration and mass tourism; the contemporary challenges of development at the sharp end of globalisation; and the rich texture of Caribbean cultures whose influence has been felt as much in London and New York as in Kingston and Port-au-Prince.

The module draws on the rich theoretical and historical debates that have emerged from within the region itself, strongly emphasising specifically 'Caribbean' approaches to the issues at hand. From Frantz Fanon and Fidel Castro to Bob Marley and Walter Rodney, the Caribbean has a strong tradition of challenging the prevailing prescriptions for its development. All the main cultures of the Caribbean - Anglophone, Francophone and Hispanic - will be considered within a flexible format that combines both case study and thematic approaches.

This module can be taken as a single unit or in conjunction with 'The Caribbean from the Haitian Revolution to the Cuban Revolution'.

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

Introductory Reading

  • Gordon Lewis, The Growth of the Modern West Indies [1968] Ian Randle, 2004
  • Franklin Knight, The Caribbean: Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism, OUP, 1990
  • Anthony Payne and Paul Sutton (eds), Modern Caribbean Politics, John Hopkins, 1993
  • UNESCO, General History of the Caribbean, Vol V The Caribbean in the Twentieth Century, UNESCO, 2004
  • Carlene Edie (ed), Democracy in the Caribbean: Myths and Realities, Praeger, 1994
  • Cynthia Barrow-Giles and Don Marshall (eds), Living at the Borderlines: Issues in Caribbean Sovereignty and Development, Ian Randle, 2003
  • Ramesh Ramsaran (ed), Caribbean survival and the global challenge, Ian Randle, 2002
  • Anthony Payne and Paul Sutton, Charting Caribbean Development, Macmillan Caribbean, 2001