Caribbean Societies

The Caribbean region is known for lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and iconic bits of culture such as reggae, Rastafarianism, salsa, calypso, and carnival.  The beauty of these islands belies serious economic, political, and social issues of which visitors are generally unaware. However, the history and cultural practices of the region paint a different picture.  In this course, we will examine how the earliest institutionalized and intertwined forms of violence and economics--including genocide of the indigenous population, slavery, the rise of the plantocracy, and the impact of globalization on the economies of the region—and their attendant/resultant forms of cultural production continue to shape present Caribbean life.  We will examine the various systems of colonial and imperial power, past and ongoing, and their lasting impact in various ways across the region. Finally, we will consider the idea of the Caribbean as a haven for tourists that depends upon a sanitized representation of the region’s history of institutionalized violence and exploitation.  We shall conduct our investigations through film, literature, history, sociology, and theory.  Students will submit weekly 2-page analytical response papers before weekly meetings, and a final 10-page argument driven sourced essay grounded in questions, issues, problems and concepts arising during study. 3 credits

Credits: 3.00

Course Code: HUM 363

Instructor(s): Harold Ramdass

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.