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  •                                     Florida Gulf Coast University
                                        LAH 3470:  The History of the Caribbean
                                        Spring 2007
    Class times: M W 12.30-1.45 pm.
    Class location: Whitaker Hall, 131.

    Instructor: Dr Nicola Foote                Office: Mod 1, Rm 36.
    Telephone: 590 7368                           Office Hours: Monday 2.30-4.30pm
    Fax: 590 7445                                                            Wednesday 4.00-5.00pm
    Email: nfoote@fgcu.edu                    Other times by appointment.


    Course Description

    This course provides an overview of Caribbean history from pre-Colombian times to the present.  While the Caribbean is a very small region geographically, it has played a role in world history far beyond its size.  Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries the region was a key staging ground for rivalries between European powers, while the development of its sugar industry was at the heart of capitalist expansion.  In the twentieth century, the Caribbean played a significant role in both World Wars, and was one of the main theatres in which the rivalry between superpowers was played out during the Cold War. Through a series of migrations, Caribbean people have come to be represented in most of the major cities of the West, and have impacted the histories of Britain, Canada and the US.  Culturally, the Caribbean has been the birthplace of global trends, such as reggae, while the work of artists, writers and thinkers such as Bob Marley, CLR James and VS Naipaul has been embraced around the world.  This course seeks to underline this importance by providing an outline of the main political, economic, social and cultural trends of the Caribbean past.  Topics considered will include indigenous pre-Columbian societies, piracy, the sugar industry, slavery and abolition, race, migration, bananas, popular religion, carnival, music and tourism.  Thematically, our primary focus will be the concept of freedom, the struggle for which is argued by many historians to be at the heart of the Caribbean experience.  The course will emphasise the diversity within the Caribbean, looking at African, Indian, European, indigenous and Chinese experiences (among others).  While the Anglophone and Hispanic Caribbean islands will be the main areas under consideration, we will also examine the Dutch and French-speaking islands, as well as the mainland coastal regions of Latin America that lay in the Caribbean Basin. 

    Please note that this is an upper-division class and as such will rely on weekly reading-based student discussion and initiative.  I will provide introductory lectures for each component or theme, but for the most part I will be eliciting and orienting class discussion by posing questions and suggesting themes and perspectives.  Class debate should not centre on presentation of facts, but rather on discussion of issues, questions, relationships, concepts and approaches.  It is imperative that you prepare for each class by doing AT THE MINIMIUM the required reading for that week.  You should aim to spend at least THREE HOURS doing preparatory reading for each class.  As preparation for writing essays you should read at least four additional sources. Please do not sign up for this course unless you are interested in the close, critical reading and discussion of assigned materials. Failure to prepare for the class will result in a very low participation grade and can affect your overall mark for this class.  Student attendance is required at all course meetings and events. 

    Learning Outcomes

    By the end of this course you will:

    • Understand the key themes and issues that contributed to the development of Caribbean societies.
    • Recognise the contribution that the Caribbean region has made to global history.
    • Be familiar with a range of historiographical and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the Caribbean. 
    • Express yourself in oral and written communication with greater fluency and coherence.
    • Have improved your ability to analyze and assess historical argument.
    • Have improved your ability to work with and interpret primary sources.


    Key Readings:

    The following books are the required readings for this class.  You may purchase them at the FGCU Bookstore or on amazon.com.  They are also available on reserve in the library.  For your discussion papers you will need to do some additional reading in the library or via ILL: papers cannot usually be written from the textbooks alone. Sometimes primary sources will be distributed for discussion in class. If you miss a class it is your responsibility to contact me to collect these documents. 

    Gad Heuman, The Caribbean (Oxford: Hodder Arnold: 2006)
    Hilary McD Beckles and Verene Sheperd (eds) Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2000)
    Hilary McD Beckles and Verene Sheperd (eds) Caribbean Freedom: Economy and Society from Emancipation to the Present (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1993)
    Verene Sheperd (ed.) Women in Caribbean History (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1999)
    Kris Lane, Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas, 1500-1750 (NY: M.E Sharpe, 1998)
    C.L.R James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Overture and the San Domingo Revolution (NY: Vintage Books, 1989)
    Earl Lovelace, The Dragon Can’t Dance: A Novel (NY: Persea Books, 1998)
    Denise Brennan, What’s Love Got to Do With It? Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004)


    Coursework and Grading


    One Critical Book Review: 20%.

    Two Discussion Papers: 25% each (for a total of 50%)

    Final exam: 20%.

    Attendance and participation: 10%.

    There are three writing assignments: one critical book review, and two discussion papers.  The available assignments are arranged by chronological period 15th-17th century; 18th-19th century; and 20th century.  You must write ONE assignment related to EACH period. This is to ensure that you fully understand the historical development of the Caribbean, in view of the fact that we are taking such an unusually long chronological overview.  You can decide which of the periods to write a discussion paper on, and which period you will write a book review on.  This is to give you the flexibility to follow your own interests. However, you must all write TWO discussion papers and ONE book review.   

    Critical Book Review: 
    15th-17th century choice: Kris Lane, Pillaging the Empire
    18th-19th century choice: C.L.R James, The Black Jacobins
    20th century choice: Earl Lovelace, The Dragon Can’t Dance
    OR   Denise Brennan, What’s Love Got to Do With It?

    You must write a review of ONE of the above books. Your review should explore the historical context of the book: when it was written, why, and for whom. You should outline the arguments made by the book, and state your opinion of the strengths and weakness of the argument, and the degree of balance it provides. You should explain how useful it is for understanding a particular theme, how it relates to wider reading on this and other topics, and what you think we can learn from it. For more tips, see the study and essay writing guide for this course. Specific issues related to each book will be discussed in class. The book review must be at least 1500 words long (6 pages).   

     Discussion paper:
    Each student is required to write two essays from the list of topics below. They will be based on class readings and discussion. These papers will be approximately 8 pages (2000 words) in length and reflect your analysis of materials discussed in the readings.  All papers must be properly footnoted and formatted, and include page numbers, citations and a bibliography. (See essay-writing guide.) They should be based on a minimum of four scholarly sources (books, book chapters and journal articles NOT internet materials or encyclopedia references). This is a chance to demonstrate critical thinking, and to develop your skills in producing well-structured and coherent pieces of writing.  Marks will be given for clarity of argument, engagement with sources and ability to present different sides of the debate.  Please note that the stringing together of fragments of notes taken from the reading materials does not constitute paper-writing!

    Essay Questions:
    15-17th Century:
    1. Discuss the nature of pre-Colombian indigenous societies in the Caribbean.  What are the limits on our knowledge of these societies?

    2. Why was the Caribbean such an important centre of colonial rivalries between European powers? What consequences did these conflicts have for the region’s development? 

    3.  Account for the emergence of the plantation system in the Caribbean.  Discuss with special reference to the sugar industry. 

    18th-19th Century:
    1. Analyse the roles of race, gender and class in Caribbean slave society.

    2.  Describe and discuss the nature of slave rebellion and maroonage in Caribbean slave society during the 18th  and early 19th century.

    3.  Compare and contrast the abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean and Cuba. 
    4.  What impact did slave emancipation have on economy and society in the British Caribbean?

    5.  Why were indentured servants imported to the British and Hispanic Caribbean in the 19th century?  What were their life experiences like?

    20th Century:
    1. What were some of the main social and political movements of the 1920’s and 30’s?  Why did they occur at this time?

    2.  What were the pressures working against Caribbean integration in the 20th century?

    3.  Evaluate US foreign policy in the Caribbean during the Cold War period.  What impact did it have on Caribbean society, politics and economy?

    4.  What impact did tourism have on Caribbean society and economy in the twentieth century?

    You may also pursue a topic of your own choosing.  However, you must clear your topic with me first, and it must fit with the relevant chronological period.  


    Final exam
    There will be a two hour comprehensive in-class exam on Wednesday 25th April from 1.30-3.30 pm.  You will be required to answer FOUR essay questions from a choice of TEN, encompassing the themes covered in the course.

    Exam make-ups will be given only for a verifiable medical emergency occurring on the scheduled test day. There will be no exceptions to this policy.

    Attendance and Participation: Attendance will be taken each class period and you will be required to attend the entire class session to receive full credit.  If you arrive late to class, you will receive only half credit for the class period.  In case of sickness or other legitimate reason for absence it is your responsibility to inform me in advance, or as soon as possible after the class.  Any student with perfect attendance at the end of the semester will receive extra credit points. To earn full participation points, you must come to class prepared to discuss the readings assigned for that class period.

    Grading scale:

    92.5 and up = A                      82.5 to 87.4 = B                      70 to 78.4 = C
    91 to 92.4 = A-                       80 to 82.4 = B-                        60 to 69.9 = D
    87.5 to 90.9 = B+                    78.5 to 79.9 = C+                    0 to 59.9 = F

     I consider all students equally capable of successfully completing the requirements for this class. I therefore do not grade students in a class on the basis of a “natural” curve which presumes that there will and should be a “normal” distribution of grades. I evaluate a student’s work solely on their individual performance, and I do not assume that there can be “too many” A’s (or C’s, for that matter) in any class section.  In borderline cases improvement and dynamic class participation will be decisive factors. 

    Every student must participate in class discussions, write the assigned papers, and complete the examinations in order to receive a final grade and pass the course.  This means that if you do not turn in all the assignments, you will automatically fail the course.  Students are expected to attend all classes and to finish the assigned readings by the dates indicated. 

    Due Dates:
    Assignment One (15th-17th Century): February 7th
    Assignment Two (18th-19th Century): March 19th
    Assignment Three (20th Century): April 23rd. 

    Papers should be submitted to me by midnight on the due date. Late papers will be penalised for each day of lateness at the rate of a third of a grade per day. (B to B-, B- to C+ etc.) Papers submitted at 12.01 on the day following the due date will be counted as late.

    Extra Credit (up to 5%): For extra credit you may write critiques of articles which relate to some aspect of the Caribbean published in one of the following leading mainstream newspapers: The Miami Herald, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Times (London) or The Guardian.  These newspapers are available either in the library or online. If you want to use another newspaper (particularly one from the Caribbean or an alternative news source) please check with me first.  The critique can be typed or handwritten, and should be approximately 250 words long. Include one paragraph describing the social content of the article, and a second analysing its historical and social significance. Please include a copy of the article along with your written critique. You may submit a total of five critiques for the course.  I will add one percentage point to your course grade for each acceptable critique.


    The academic integrity of the university requires all students to be honest in the representation of their work.  This means that you must not copy from other students during exams, that your written assignments should be properly cited and represent your own work.  FGCU keeps an archive of submitted essays, thus anyone attempting to pass off a previous students work as their own will be caught. Likewise I regularly check the internet for essays on the themes discussed here.  Anyone caught cheating will automatically fail the course, and will place their entire university career in jeopardy. This is not a theoretical issue: every year at least one person is caught cheating and thus fails the course. See the student resources centre for help on clear and correct citation.  Contact me if you require further help.

    Disability Policy

    Students with disabilities or other issues that may impact their performance in the class should speak with me at the start of the course in order to work out strategies regarding note-taking, reading the assigned books and taking the exams.
    Academic Freedom

    I guarantee your right to freely express your ideas, no matter what they are and how unpopular they may be.  I will endeavour to present a variety of perspectives in the classroom, and to share my own personal beliefs with the class when appropriate.  If you feel intimidated or are reluctant about expressing your ideas in class please talk to me about it, or send me an anonymous message if you feel more comfortable.  You have complete freedom with one important exception: attacking or harassing individuals in the class will not be permitted. 

    Consulting Your Instructor

    My goal is to assist you in developing a meaningful understanding of history and to help you achieve the highest grade you are capable of.  A constructive, mutually respectful attitude in all matters will greatly facilitate this process. I will be available to discuss your questions and concerns during the office hours stated at the top of this syllabus. You can also make an appointment to see me at a different time by consulting me at the end of class, or by phone or email.  Please note: I will not open any email that does not show a recognizable name in the send field, nor will I open any attachments to emails that do not show recognizable names in the email containing the attachment.  I will need to receive all email attachments as word documents.  Therefore, you will not be able to send me emails under names or nicknames other than your name on the class role for this course.  Please note also that you will not receive a grade for any paper submitted via an email attachment that does not show your name on the first page. 

    Course Schedule and Readings

    Week Beginning Jan 8th:
    1a. Introduction/ What is Caribbean History?
    Reading: Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, CH. 5: John Thornton, “The Birth of an Atlantic World”, pp.55-73. 

    Part One: 15th-17th Century
    1b. Indigenous Societies.
    Heuman, The Caribbean, pp.1-2.
    Shepherd, Women in Caribbean History, Ch.1pp.1-19
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Ch. 6: David Henige, “On the Contact Population of Hispaniola: History as Higher Mathematics”, pp.75-85.

    Week beginning Jan 15th
    2a. No class Monday, MLK day.

    2b. First Contacts/ The Arrival of Europeans.
    Heuman, pp.3-6.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 7, 8 & 9, pp.86-126.

    Primary Sources (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Columbus, Extract from his journal.
    Las Casas, A Short History of the Destruction of the Indies
    Friar Montesinos, Sermon.

    Suggested Reading:
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Ch.10, pp.127-134. 

    Week beginning Jan 22nd
    3a. Early European Development
    Heuman, pp.6-10.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 11& 17, pp.136-154; 226-238.


    3b. Piracy and Colonial Rivalries
    Kris Lane, Pillaging the Empire. Introduction and a chapter of your choice.

    Suggested Reading:
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 13 & 14, pp. 166-193.

    Week beginning Jan 29th
    4a. The Development of the Sugar Industry.
    Heuman, pp.11-21.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 16 &21, pp.207-225; 276-288.

    Suggested Reading: Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Ch.36, pp.480-492.

    Part Two: 18th- 19th Century

    4b. Slavery, Work and the Slave’s Economy.
    Heuman, pp.22-33.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 30 & 31, pp.398-436.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extract from autobiography of Olaudah Equiano

    Suggested Reading:
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 32 pp.437-453; Ch. 37, pp.494-505; Chs 53-56, pp.722-776, Ch.59, pp.795-808.


    Week beginning Feb 5th
    5a. Upper and Middle Classes in Slave Society: Planters and Free Coloureds.
    Heuman, pp.34-54.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Ch. 43 & 45, pp.597-612; 621-632.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extract from journals of Thomas Thistlewood and Elizabeth Fenwick.

    Suggested Reading: Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 41&42, pp.544-596.


    --------- 1st essay (15th-17th century) due Feb 7th!!! -------------------------------------
    5b. Women and Slave Society.
    Reading: Shepherd, Caribbean Women, pp.20-84.

    Suggested Reading:
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 46-51, pp.702

    Primary Sources (to be distributed and discussed in class)
    Extract from Kate McCarrety, Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl
    Extract from The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave Narrated by Herself


    Week beginning Feb 12th
    6a. Slave Resistance and Maroonage.
    Heuman, pp.55-66.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Ch. 65, 68 &69, pp. 869-78; 905-931, Ch. 73, pp.984-1000. 

    Suggested Reading:
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs. 67 &68, pp.879-904, Ch. 74-75, pp. 1001-1029.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extract from Autobiography of a Runaway Slave


    6b. Haitian Revolution.
    Heuman, pp.67-77.
    C.L.R James, Black Jacobins, esp. Chs. 4, 6, 9 and 13. 

    Suggested Reading:
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs 70-72, pp. 932-982.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Speeches and letters of Toussaint L’Overture

    Week beginning Feb 19th
    7a. Abolition in the British Caribbean.
    Heuman, pp.78-88.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Chs.76 and 77, pp.1031-1054.

    Suggested Reading: Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Ch. 80, pp.1077-1086.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from writings of William Wilberforce

    7b. Abolition in Cuba. 
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Slavery, Ch. 81, pp.1087-1104.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from The Cuba Reader

    Week beginning Feb 26th
    8a.  Post-Emancipation Society and Economy.
    Heuman, pp.96-106.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp.12-27, pp. 55-63, pp.107-123.
    Shepherd, Women in Caribbean History, pp.85-113.

    Suggested Reading:
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp. 42-54; 80-107; 124-130; 225-258.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from James Williams: An Apprenticed Labourer in Jamaica


    8b.  Indentureship. 
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp.131-151, 161-168.
    Shepherd, Women in Caribbean History, pp. 114-140.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Poems from India in the Caribbean

    ---------------March 5th- 11th.  Spring break – no classes!!!!!!!!!--------------------

    Week beginning March 12th
    9a. Post-Emancipation Riots and Resistance. 
    Heuman, pp.107-118.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp.169-214.
    Shepherd, p.154-156.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from Mary Turner, From Chattel Slaves to Wage Slaves

    9b. The Emergence of Creole culture.
    Heuman, pp.119-128
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp.28-41; 274-283. 

    Part Three: The Twentieth Century. 

    Week beginning March 19th
    -------------- 2nd essay (18th-19th century) due!!!! --------------------------------
    10a.  Labor Protests and the 1920’s and 1930’s. 
    Heuman, pp.139-148
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp.359-392.
    Shepherd, pp.157-170.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extract from the writing of Marcus Garvey

    10b. Decolonisation and Integration. 
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp.476-518
    Shepherd, pp. 170-186

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extract from Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

    Week beginning March 26th
    11a. Economic Diversification and Transition. 
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp.393-442.

    11b.  Dictatorship and Oppression: Trujillo and Duvalier.
    Class handouts. 

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from the speeches and writings of Papa Doc and Baby Doc.


    Week beginning April 2nd
    12a. The Revolutionary Caribbean: Socialism and Black Power.
    Heuman, pp.149-160.
    Beckles and Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp.541-566.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from the writings of Che Guevara, Maurice Bishop and Cheddy Jagen
    Extracts from The Black Power Revolution 1970: A Retrospective

    12b. US Policy. 
    Heuman, pp.129-139.
    Class handouts.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from US State department documents and A Haiti Anthology

    Week beginning April 9th
    13a. Migration and Diaspora.
    Heuman, pp.168-171
    Shepherd, pp.141-153.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from Paula Palmer, What Happen?
    BBC, Windrush Project.
    Extract from V.S Naipual, The Mimic Men

    13b. Popular Culture –Carnival, Reggae, Cricket.
    Heuman, pp.173-184.
    Earl Lovelace, The Dragon Can’t Dance.

    Week beginning April 16th
    14a. Popular Religion: Rastafari, Santeria, and Vodun.
    Class handouts.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    Extracts from The Cuba Reader and Haiti Anthology
    14b. Tourism and Bananas.
    Heuman, pp. 165-168.
    Denise Brennan, What’s Love Got to Do With It?, Esp. Intro, Chs. 4&5.

    Primary Source (to be distributed and discussed in class):
    David Rudder, Banana Death

    April 23rd:  Revision Class.  Final Essay Due!

    April 25th: Final Exam 1.30-3.30pm. 

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