Courses & Instructors
How is it that a country as small as Dominica (home to a mere 70,000 people and geographically smaller than New York City) has consistently produced popular musics that inform and shape the sounds of the entire Caribbean? What sounds are Dominican musicians tapping into in order to generate such a disproportionate impact on Caribbean popular music? We will approach answers to this set of questions by exploring the history of Dominican popular music in relation to the region and to the region’s musical life. We will also work to develop a theoretical frame within which to think about these answers, coming to terms specifically with how “the creole” works in Dominica and throughout the region. By connecting history with theory in this way, we will be able to formulate some tentative answers to our initial questions while simultaneously opening our inquiry to additional questions. So, for instance, why would Dominicans call for and musically enact a border-less Caribbean? Why would such a state of affairs be desirable? What, moreover, is at stake in such a claim? By thinking about these related questions, we will, by the end our time together, come to hear Dominica’s place in (and challenge to) the region—we will be able to hear these ideas and concerns play out in cadence-lypso, and bouyon. And we will be attuned to the musical answers steadily echoing back from the region—answers ranging from calypso to konpa, and from soca to zouk.
Whether it manifests in laughter, derision, ridicule, satire and/or sarcasm, caricature, parody, mockery, humor serves different purposes in contemporary African society. In many ways, Africans use humor to reflect and reflect on the conflicts, diseases, disasters, and poverty that have become the standard ways by which the rest of the world encounter the continent in the media. Why are Africans so full of mirth even in the face of the seemingly all-pervading gloom in the continent? How is humor one of the most versatile ways of capturing and responding to social reality? How can we penetrate social complexity, including the unsaid and the unsayable, through levity? Does humor enable or counteract power? The series of lectures and debates will use a “soft” phenomenon (humor) to cut through the “hard stuff” (including politics, the market, sociability, etc.) in the continent. We will approach humor as “serious things,” examine the theoretical/conceptual approaches to humor, and use particular instances of humor to analyze and elaborate on socio-cultural, economic and political dynamics in contemporary Africa
During our week of classes, we will explore one of the most important transformations in the history of United States: the efforts of thousands of people, enslaved and free, to survive, escape, and undo slavery. Beginning with the Atlantic slave trade, we will examine the rise of the plantation economies that spurred the business of trafficking in slaves. Once enslaved, people of African descent found many ways, creative and ordinary, to sustain their bodies and their spirits against the commodification that exploited their labor. But they also seized opportunities to rebel. African American intellectuals, meanwhile, presented carefully reasoned arguments against racism and for the equality of all people. Other activists spoke out against slavery and for universal human rights. We will learn about several of these individuals from their speeches, writings, and work with the Underground Railroad.
We will use visual images to focus our exploration of African Americans who were enslaved in the United States. Sources will include photographs, sketches, and text from newspapers. We will approach the images both as illustrations and as primary evidence that can offer insight into the lives of the people. We will also engage the possibility of “seeing” or visualizing the objects and scenes that enslaved people described in narratives and interviews. In other words, we will practice “seeing" as we read and think.
In this course students will map negritude (Blackness) across the hemisphere as we engage in comparative analysis of 4 contemporary movements in the U.S. and Cuba. In the U.S. the pair are the Ferguson Uprising (2014) and the Concerned Student 1950 (2015) student movement at the University of Missouri. In Cuba the pair are the Movimiento San Isidro (2018) and Patria Y Vida (Homeland and Life)/ July 11th movement (2021). The pair of movements engage in diverse forms of actions and organizing as well as consist of community residents, students, artists and youth participants. We will draw from Afro-Latin American Studies scholarship that centers the African presence in both people and societies through quantitative and qualitive inquiry. We will use texts and media to engage questions related to the roots of race-making in both Spanish and British colonies, mestizaje and anti-miscegenation. In the area of politics, we will engage in conceptualizations and subsequent critique of racial democracy, imperialism, and communism/socialism. Understanding the role of social and racial justice movements in the hemisphere’s oldest dictatorship and oldest democracy will guide us in moving toward transnational and pluralistic future imaginaries of hemispheric negritude.
Recent public and policy discourse has placed an interrogative focus on critical race theory. Much of this debate is naively leveled at critical race theory, not understanding the tenets of critical race theory, let alone recognizing the broader domain of scholarship in critical race studies. Critical race studies includes CRT, anti-colonial studies, postcolonial studies, Black feminisms, Black queer studies, Black radical thought, indigenous studies, Afro-futurism, and Afro-pessimism among others. This seminar will introduce students to critical race studies, the various areas of critical race scholarship, and their applications. Students will come away from this seminar with a clear understanding of critical race studies as well as how they may apply it for their own interest.
Questions? Please email Ms. Teya Campbell at email@example.com.