The Modern Caribbean: Emancipation to the present
Duke University, Spring 2012 


How did a region as small as the Caribbean end up at the center of some of the most significant global transformations of the past two centuries? And how did these islands forge global connections with almost every part of the world? These are just some of the questions we will consider this semester as we examine the Caribbean region as it transitioned from a collection of colonial slave societies into a region of postcolonial and independent nations. We will survey this complicated terrain by focusing our attention on three countries in particular—Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba—and, in the process, we will examine some of the broader trends that form this region’s shared history: postemancipation economics and politics; nationalist and anticolonial movements; the rise of American economic, political, and cultural influence; sports in the Caribbean; communism; and the Caribbean diaspora. Toward the end of the semester, we will look at the Caribbean today as a postcolonial and global space.

Select Readings

Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls: A Memoir
Laurent Dubois, Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France
C.L.R. James, Beyond a Boundary
C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
Andrea Levy, The Long Song: A Novel
Mary Renda, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915-1940
Ian Thomson, The Dead Yard: A Story of Modern Jamaica
Kerry Young, Pao: A Novel