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  • IDS 251 Caribbean Cultures
    Spring 2002
    Salem State College
    TTh 1-2:15; SB 202

    Professor Avi Chomsky
    Sullivan Building 109

    Through an examination of the social sciences, humanities, and arts in Caribbean cultures, students will discover the major threads which distinguish the Caribbean societies. An interdisciplinary approach drawing on the content, methods, and sources of various academic disciplines will be used to provide the processes and information to analyze the societies of the Caribbean. Key topics will be race, gender, ethnicity, identity, religion, film, music, literature, economic development, environment, migration, social movements, and revolution and, above all, the ways that Caribbean peoples are shaped by, understand, and try to shape the societies in which they live.

    Required books:

    Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2000.
    Peter Manuel, Caribbean Currents: From Rumba to Reggae. Temple University Press, 1995.
    Juan Antonio Blanco and Medea Benjamin, Cuba: Talking about Revolution. Ocean Press, 1997.
    Magali García Ramis, Happy Days, Uncle Sergio. White Pine Press, 1995.
    Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones. Soho Press, 1998.

    Course requirements: Attendance and participation are crucial (20%). Be prepared to discuss the readings. Four short papers (2-3 pages) (10% each; 40%); final paper (4-6 pages) and presentation (20%); final exam (20%).

    Final paper options:
    1. Choose a topic related to Caribbean religions. You may use secondary and primary source materials (eg. books, articles, websites, interviews).
    2. Choose a topic related to people of Caribbean origin in the northeast United States. You may use primary and secondary materials (eg. census data, fieldwork or participant observation in the North Shore or Boston areas, interviews, books, articles, websites.)
    You will prepare a 4-6 page research paper on your topic, and also a 10-15 minute class presentation. Audiovisuals are most welcome!
    What is the Caribbean? The colonial legacy

    Jan 15- Indigenous peoples and conquest

    Jan 17-The colonial period: geopolitics, sugar and slavery
    Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place; Fernando Ortiz, “Transculturation” (handout)

    Jan 22- The colonial heritage: “Sugar Cane Alley”
    Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place

    Jan 24- Finish “Sugar Cane Alley”
    Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place

    Jan 29- Discussion: The colonial legacy in the Caribbean, a discussion of A Small Place and “Sugar Cane Alley”

    Paper due: Using A Small Place and “Sugar Cane Alley” as sources, discuss the legacy of colonialism in the Caribbean today.

    Jan 31- Music and Caribbean culture
    Manuel, chap. 1

    The Cuban Revolution

    Feb 5-
    Film: “La última cena”

    Feb 7- Finish “La A última cena,” discuss.
    Manuel, chap. 2

    Feb 12- The Cuban Revolution and social transformation
    Blanco and Benjamin

    Feb 14- Revolution and culture
    Blanco and Benjamin

    Paper due. For people with little previous background on Cuba: How does the Cuban revolution of Blanco and Benjamin compare to what you knew about the Cuban revolution? For people who traveled to or studied Cuba previously: How realistic is Blanco and Benjamin’s discussion?

    Jamaica: From slavery to freedom

    Feb 19-A cultural history of Jamaica
    Manuel, chap. 7

    Feb 21- Film: “The Harder they Come”

    Feb 26- Finish “The Harder they Come”

    Feb 28- Discussion

    Caribbean Transnationalism: Puerto Rico

    Mar 5 A cultural history of Puerto Rico
    Manuel, chap. 3

    Mar 7 Operation Bootstrap and the Transformation of Puerto Rico
    García Ramis


    Mar 19 Puerto Rico and the United States: The musical connection
    García Ramis; Manuel chap. 4

    Paper due. Bibliography and prospectus for final paper on 1) Religions in the Caribbean; or 2) The Caribbean in Massachusetts.

    Mar 21 Discussion: Puerto Rican Identity
    García Ramis

    Paper due: Use García Ramis as a source to discuss the impact of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States on the characters in the book.

    Migration, Race and Identity: Haiti and the Dominican Republic

    Mar 26 Music and identity in the Dominican Republic
    Manuel chap. 5
    Film: “Mirrors of the Heart”

    Mar 28 Music and identity in Haiti
    Manuel chap. 6

    Apr 2 A history of Caribbean migration

    Apr 4 The Dominican Republic and Haiti: Dictatorship and revolution

    Apr 9 Film: “Haiti, Killing the Dream”

    Apr 11 Discussion
    Paper due: Use Danticat as a source to discuss an issue in Haitian and/or Dominican society and culture.

    The Caribbean and the World

    Apr 16 A cultural history of Trinidad
    Manuel, chap. 8

    Apr 18 East Indians in the Caribbean
    Manuel, chap. 9

    Apr 23 African, European and Indigenous religions in the Caribbean. Student presentations.

    Apr 25 The Caribbean in Massachusetts (Salem, the North Shore, Boston, etc.). Student presentations.

    Apr 30 Film: JVC/Smithsonian Folkways Video Anthology of Music and Dance in the Americas, vol. 4: The Caribbean (Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, etc.)
    Final paper due.

    May 2 Conclusion
    Manuel, chap. 10

    Final Exam: Monday, May 6, 11:30-1:30

    Salem State College is committed to providing equal access to the educational experience for all students in compliance with Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act and The Americans with Disabilities Act and to providing all reasonable academic accommodations, aids and adjustments. Any student who has a documented disability requiring an accommodation, aid or adjustment should speak with the instructor immediately. Students with Disabilities who have not previously done so should provide documentation to and schedule an appointment with the Office for Students with Disabilities and obtain appropriate services.
    IDS 251
    Instructions for final paper

    What is a research paper? A research paper is not the same as a “report” that you may have written in the past. A research paper must be based on original research, and also on analysis and interpretation. You need to research your topic using more than one source. See more on sources below. But it is not enough to tell your readers what your sources said. You need to process, analyze, interpret, engage in a dialogue with your sources. Your own voice and ideas must provide the central organizing principle of the paper.

    What are approporiate sources? Almost anything can be an appropriate source—but YOU need to evaluate and discuss each of your sources. Sometimes the most difficult sources for students to evaluate are websites. Remember, the internet is like talk radio. Anyone can call in, and they can say whatever they want. It’s up to YOU to evaluate what’s on a website. Just because it’s there doesn’t make it true, useful or valid.

    How do you cite internet sources? A source you find on the internet is like a source you find anywhere else. You need to cite it by telling us the author, the title, and the date. THEN, you need to tell us the URL or website that you found the source on. If you can’t figure out the author and title, ask for help.

    How do you avoid plagiarism? Plagiarism is when you use someone else’s words, or someone else’s ideas, without giving them credit for those words or ideas. There are several different ways of giving this credit. If you use someone’s actual words, they MUST be in quotation marks, with a citation (footnote or reference in the text telling the source and page number). You should also tell your readers whose words they are, and why you want us to know what this person said. Ditto with idea, point or argument—if some person made that point, or developed that idea, tell us who, and tell us why YOU want to include that in your paper.

    What happens if you plagiarize? You fail the course.

    How do you develop an original argument? Citing your sources correctly is the first step. It helps you to separate YOUR authorial voice from that of your sources. When you’re organizing your notes, and writing the paper, keep foremost in your mind the question “What do I want to say in this paper? Why is it important or interesting? What does it show?” Talk about your ideas with your friends. Engage in a dialogue with your sources as you write.

    Where can you get help with all this? Two good places to start are 1) the Writing Center; 2) your professor. Ask!!!! That’s why you’re here, and that’s why we’re here.

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