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Africana and Latin American Studies (ALST)

Director: B. Moore

The Africana and Latin American Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program that studies the histories and cultures of the peoples of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and of African Americans in the United States. It draws heavily from several disciplines in the humanities (art, language, literature, music) and the social sciences (anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, political science, and sociology), as well as educational studies, philosophy, psychology, religion, and writing and rhetoric. This provides students with critical methodological cross-disciplinary skills that are increasingly demanded by employers and graduate schools. The program offers a major and a minor in four different concentrations: African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American studies. It examines the indigenous civilizations of these regions and studies the impact of migration, imperialism and colonialism, racism, nationalism, and globalization in shaping the lives, ideas, and cultural identities of their inhabitants. The focus on the cultural roots of several ethnic minority groups now living in the United States is vital for preparing students to function effectively in an increasingly multicultural society of the future.

Students pursuing a major or a minor in one of the concentrations of Africana and Latin American studies are encouraged to take advantage of the multiple program-sponsored study-abroad opportunities in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America which give them first-hand lived experiences in those societies that considerably enhance their classroom knowledge.


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ALST 203, The Caribbean
An interdisciplinary course that introduces students to the field of Caribbean Studies. It uses literature, film, and the music of the region to explore the historical, societal, cultural, political, and economic development of the Caribbean. It also explores gender issues in the region. It is one of the required courses for students who seek to participate in the West Indies Study Group.

ALST 228, Caribbean-Conquest/Colonialism
Surveys Caribbean history from European conquest and colonization to political independence. It introduces students to the salient features of the region's history from indigenous societies and their destruction by European invaders; through the rise of plantations and African slavery, the struggles for freedom, post-slavery social and economic developments; to the rise of nationalism leading to political self-determination, and the new American imperialism.

ALST 250, Representations of Africa
Critique the ways in which "Africa" has been constructed as an object of Western knowledge. The course interrogates how Africa and Africans have been portrayed to outside audiences historically and contemporarily, as well as the socio-political ramifications of such portrayals. Drawing on key texts from the social sciences, the humanities as well as the creative arts, the course explores specific depictions of Africa and Africans. It examines African self-representations alongside representations that focus on Africa as a site of difference or 'othering'.

ALST 282, The Making of Modern Africa
Surveys the history of Africa from 1880s to the contemporary period. Major themes will include: the imperial scramble and partition of Africa; African resistances; colonial rule in Africa; independence and problems of independence; socio-economic developments in independent Africa; ethnic conflicts; crises and contemporary issues.

ARTS 248, African Art
A study of the principal art styles of sub-Saharan Africa, this course gives attention to both the formal and cultural aspects of indigenous art. The manufacture and usage of art objects is examined within the contexts of local religious, social, and political systems, as well as within the larger framework of language and cultural areas. Traditional art styles are analyzed as products of both collective aesthetics and individual innovation. Attention is given to transmission of art forms from culture to culture and to the persistence of traditional art in the face of social change.

CORE 156C, Southern Africa
Introduces students to the history the major countries of Southern Africa. The course emphasizes that these countries are connected by patterns of culture, migration and economic exchange, political contingencies and warfare. It ranges from the precolonial period, through the time of the British, Portuguese, Belgian and German Empires, to conflicts in the region during the independence and Cold War eras. It seeks to give a picture of the cultures of these countries, and their political, social and economic conditions, today. There is a particular focus on interactions between nations, and issues of migration and trans­border initiatives. South Africa has a central place in the course but attention will particularly be given to Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and the 'Copperbelt' region of northern Zambia and Katanga/Shaba.

CORE 163C, The Caribbean
The archipelago of islands and mainland nations called the Caribbean constitutes a complex montage of races, ethnic groups, languages, and nations. Stretching from Guyana in South America to as far north as the Bahamas, minutes from the coast of Miami, the region is joined by a common history of slavery, imperialism, and resistant self-definition. This course studies literature, film, and music of the region to trace a socio-cultural history of the Caribbean. What are the continued effects of slavery and imperialism on the Caribbean? How does African-Creole culture in particular respond to these continued effects? How do tourism, advertising, music, and film inform/construct people’s relationship to the Caribbean in the global present?

CORE 171C, Mexico
An interdisciplinary introduction to the history, people, art and cultures of Mexico, a country of diverse ethnic, sexual, gendered, class, and political identities that shares a 2,000-mile border with the United States. How does Mexico’s colonial past inform the present? On what terms has a Mexican national identity been defined and who is included or excluded from rights and citizenship? Objectives are to examine Mexico’s complex history and social fabric; to study Mexican identities, politics, and cultural expressions with relation to this history; and to gain a general understanding of contemporary Mexico in the context of current events and Mexico’s relationship to the United States.

CORE 173C, Ethiopia
Surveys the culture, religion, communities, history, and socio-economic developments of Ethiopia from the ancient times to the modern period. Ethiopia is home to over 80 ethnic groups with striking cultures that are distinct from Western traditions. Major themes include peoples and languages; traditional customs and beliefs; Christianity and Islam; marriages; community service organizations; literature, novels; education; ethnic relations; traditional art and music; colonial resistance; sports; socio-economic developments; natural resources usage; Ethiopia and Europe; the Ethiopian revolution; Ethiopian immigrants in the United States; traditional harmful practices; and politics. Emphasis is also given to contemporary issues. Lectures are supplemented by discussions, film presentation, group activity, and coffee ceremony.

CORE 177C, Peru
The Latin American country Peru evokes dramatic and conflicting images of spectacular natural settings, ancient ruins, cosmopolitan cities, shantytowns, street children, poverty and more. It is a country of extremes. This course offers an interdisciplinary inquiry into this ecologically and culturally diverse land. The course begins by exploring the distinct geography and ecology of the central Andean region (rainforest, mountains, desert, and ocean) in order to understand how these features have shaped the societies that inhabit the region of present-day Peru. This involves analyzing the evolution and organization of Pre-Columbian societies, paying special attention to the Inca civilization. It also examines the ideologies, institutions and practices introduced with the Spanish conquest and era of colonialism in order to understand their impact on indigenous society and their relevance to the state of underdevelopment that characterizes contemporary Peru. Study of present-day Peru juxtaposes rural and urban life, the ties between the two spheres, and the crisis conditions that enveloped both ways of life until recently. Specific issues include the internal armed conflict, the coca culture and cocaine economy, shantytowns and land invasions, oil extraction and indigenous resistance, among other compelling issues. Throughout the term, this course emphasizes the many paradoxes of this intriguing land.

CORE 180C, French Caribbean
Martinique, a 400 square-mile island, is an official part of France today despite being 4200 miles away from mainland France. French is the official language but most Martinicans freely express themselves in Creole. The majority of Martinicans will declare that they are, first and foremost, citizens of the French Republic, but will also readily admit that they are Martinican by culture. What is striking about Martinique is the dizzying array of cultural signifiers that seem to coexist in a veritable braided community, in which it can be genuinely difficult to tell where one cultural identity strand ends and another begins. Martinique is thus a fabulous lens through which this process of negotiating and renegotiating of cultures, languages, and identities can be viewed, and can be considered a precursor to modern-day globalization.

CORE 190C, South Africa
Aims to provide students with an overview of the social, cultural, political, and economic dynamics that have shaped life in South Africa. Students and faculty work together to better understand the way in which the country of South Africa came into being, how that national identity has been a site of struggle and contestation, particularly in the case of the struggle to overcome Apartheid, and how South Africans are working to overcome the legacy of racism and oppression that has marked much of the social and cultural experience of South Africa. In doing so, students investigate the changing dynamics of race, gender, and culture in South Africa, with a particular focus on understanding the ways South Africans are actively reshaping and unsettling existing social identities and distinctions.

CORE 198C, Cuba
Examines the complex geographic, historic, social, racial, literary, political, and artistic fabric of Cuba. Historical readings explore major themes of Cuban history, while literary and personal narratives provide insight into social and political realities. These themes are complemented by a study of Cuban film, dance and music as agents of identity formation.

FSEM 171, Discovering African Literature
Faculty Profile for Professor Julien

How do we come to be who we are? How do we tell our own stories? What can we learn from each other? What does it mean to be a human community? These are some of the questions this course invites us to consider as we discover texts written by various prominent authors from West and North Africa. The product of a complex history, this is a literature where cultures, identities, genres and languages intersect. It gives voice to rich questions of identity and self-definition through the exploration of traditional as well as innovative forms of writing. Together, we will engage in close reading of these texts and have broader discussions on themes and concepts such as imperialism and colonialism, post-colonialism, cultural translocation, gender, race, sexuality, religion, and multilingualism. In doing so, we will encounter new ways of reflecting on questions and issues that concern us all, our self-definition, and the way we relate to others. This course is taught in English but should especially be of interest to students with some experience with the French language or with travel experience to France or other francophone countries. There will be the opportunity of a separate optional “Foreign Language Across the Curriculum” component. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive credit for FREN 222 and satisfy one half of the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

Hélène M. Julien is associate professor of French and Women’s Studies. With a specific focus on contemporary French literature and literature from North Africa and its diaspora, her research explores the ways in which personal and collective selves find their voices in relation to history, memory, gender, race, sexuality, and culture.

HIST 103, American History to 1877
A broad survey of key patterns, events, and the history of peoples in America from ca. 1500 to 1877. Covers the breadth of Native American life and the effects of European settlement, the colonial and constitutional periods through the age of reform, the crisis of union, and the Civil War and Reconstruction. Prepares students for upper-level courses in early American history. (US)

HIST 106, The Making of Modern Africa
Surveys the history of Africa from 1880s to the contemporary period. Major themes will include: the imperial scramble and partition of Africa; African resistances; colonial rule in Africa; independence and problems of independence; socio-economic developments in independent Africa; ethnic conflicts; crises and contemporary issues. (AF)

HIST 209, Atlantic World, 1492-1800
The events that followed Columbus' accidental arrival in the New World in 1492 shaped the world in which we live today. This course explores the formation of the Atlantic communities as the result of interactions between European, African, and Native American peoples as well as the circulation of diseases, natural products, labor systems, imperial designs, economic policies, and frontier zones in the Atlantic world. Many of the consequences of this process of interaction were unintended. Students explore the configuration of European, African, and Native American societies before contact and the configuration of new communities in the New World; the slave trade and the establishment of the plantation complex from Brazil to South Carolina; the spread of Christianity in the New World; the development of scientific practices in the service of imperial and national states; the establishment of labor systems; and the different strategies of accommodation, resistance, and rebellion of the different actors trying to find/protect their place in the Atlantic world. This course intends to provide a regional framework for the study of colonial societies in the western hemisphere as well as for the study of emerging empires and states in Europe. (LAC)

HIST 218, African Amer Struggle-Freedom
Surveys the presence of African Americans in the United States and their struggle for freedom under the concept of democracy. Examines African origins, the Middle Passage, the creation of an African American culture in slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the growth of black communities in the face of hostility, the African American impact on American culture, the Civil Rights movement, and the continuing struggle by African Americans to make democracy real. (US)

HIST 228, Caribbean-Conquest/Colonialism
Surveys Caribbean history from European conquest and colonization to political independence. It introduces students to the salient features of the region's history from indigenous societies and their destruction by Europian invaders and the indigenous peoples; through the rise of plantations and African slavery, the struggles for freedom, post-slavery social and economic developments; to the rise of nationalism leading to political self-determination, and the new American imperialism. (LAC)

MUSI 161, The History of Jazz
A study of American jazz from 1920 to the present, through readings, intensive study of recordings, and class lectures. Several topics are studied in depth: listening skills, the quality of swing, group interaction, the development of solo improvisation, the blues, and the evolution of jazz performance practice. Important composers, bands, and soloists are highlighted, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and the Miles Davis groups. (H&A)

POSC 216, Comparative Pol: Latin America
Today Latin America is one of the most democratic regions of the developing world, although it faces problems of inequality, gridlock, and economic growth. Latin America's 20th-century experiences of coups, revolutions, and instability also present important lessons for comparative politics. This course introduces students to the countries of Latin America and the important patterns of similarity and difference that can help them understand political development and elucidate comparative trends. Regime type is one prism through which students examine the region's countries, including democracy, semi-democracy, and various authoritarian regimes, especially bureaucratic authoritarianism. Another important topic is the United States' relationship with the region's polities, on issues like the Cold War, drug wars, and economic policies. In addition to big countries like Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela, the course also focuses on countries of particular student interest. (CO)

SOCI 212, Power, Racism and Privilege
Familiarize students with theoretical and historical perspectives of racial inequality and other ethnic and minority group relationships. The course primarily examines the relationship between racism and the socio-economic and political development of the United States. Course readings, lectures, and discussions are intended to aid students in gaining a clear understanding of the role race and ethnicity have played in shaping contemporary US society as well as the larger social world we live in and to therefore contribute to each student’s self-understanding and to a better understanding of others whose racial-cultural backgrounds are different.

SPAN 354, Lat Amer Lit:Illusion/Fantasy
Through a survey of Latin American literature from its origins through the 20th century, this course examines the many forms of alternative reality that Latin American writers have created and explored. The course relates those realities to the cultural and sociological history of Latin America as well as to larger Western literary modes, such as the Baroque, Romanticism, and Surrealism. Language Placement Guidelines

SPAN 355, Latin Amer Lit: Many Voices
The course explores the diversity of literary voices in Latin America, from pre-Columbian texts to the contemporary writings of Castellanos, Rulfo, and García Márquez. This survey introduces students to the most important developments in Latin American literary history as it examines questions of cultural, ethnic, gender, and class identities. Language Placement Guidelines

SPAN 361, Adv Composition & Stylistics
Structured as an intensive composition class. Emphasis is placed on mastering the fine points of Spanish grammar in order to improve writing skills. In addition to regular class meetings, students are required to attend a series of cultural events, which may include film, theater, etc. Language Placement Guidelines