FALL 2012


Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10:00-11:15

Sturges 105


Professor Rose-Marie Chierici

Sturges 13; ext. 5818


Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday: 9:00-9:30; Wednesday 11:00-12:00 and 1:00-2:00, or at other times by appointment



This course traces the legacy of the colonial experience and the political, economic, religious and cultural changes that shaped post-colonial societies in the Americas. Specifically, it address issues that affect the African Diaspora such as the meaning of blackness, the emergence of nationalist movements and ethnic identity in the Caribbean and the US, and the significance of religion and language as markers of ethnic identity. We will pay particular attention to the effect of globalization, the twin processes of homogenization and individualism that characterize relationships between the Diaspora and Africa as well as between post-colonial societies and former colonial powers. We will use Haiti as a case study to illustrate these concepts. Readings, discussions, and films underscore that politics of race and ethnicity as well as the discourse on culture and identity shape and influence social relations in these post-colonial and diverse societies. We will use Haiti as a case study to illustrate these patterns and processes.


What do we mean by Diaspora? Diaspora is a Greek word which was originally used to refer to the exile of Jewish people beginning in the sixth century B.C. Its meaning has been extended to include the dispersal of any ethnic group. It is a dynamic concept which juxtaposes both displacement and attachment. In the context of this class, African Diaspora “alludes to the spread of African people, ideas and cultures throughout the world, both through the brutality of slavery and the voluntary migration of populations. It also suggests a continuing yearning for what the continent represents” (NYT 7/20/06).



Upon successful completion of this course, a student will demonstrate:

1) Familiarity with the main theories and concepts that explain the formation of Creole cultures.

You will become familiar with dominant models and theories that explain the formation of Creole cultures in the New World. These skills will be demonstrated and evaluated through the preparation of short assignments and essays. Assignments and essays address specific issues such as of post-colonial history in the Caribbean, race and ethnicity, pan-African identity, Afro-Caribbean religions.

2) Competency in the analysis of anthropological concepts.

You will demonstrate competence in the critical and comparative analysis of theoretical perspectives in anthropology. These skills will be developed through focused discussions of the material covered and student led discussion sessions. Discussions are opportunities for students to critically evaluate the material covered in class.

3) Competency in the interpretation of anthropological ideas.

You will demonstrate an ability to identify and critique theoretical ideas and evaluate perspectives of the issues discussed in the course. These skills will be evaluated through student-led discussion sessions, essays, and short assignments.



In order to get the most out of lectures, films and class discussions students are expected to complete all assigned readings and to attend all classes. I strongly encourage all students to take advantage of office hours, drop by even if you do not have a specific question. I look forward to meeting each student. I also hope that you will feel comfortable enough to take part in class discussions; each person has something meaningful to contribute and all questions are worth asking. Rest assured that your comments and questions are welcomed and that your opinions will be respected.



Student performance will be evaluated in the following way:

  • 2 essays worth 20% each (40%)
  • student-led discussions 10%
  • final evaluation 20%
  • diversity experiences 15%
  • class participation 15%.


Your final grade reflects individual work, collaborative efforts through group projects, as well as participation in discussions and activities:

·       You will complete two 4pp essays on a topic related to the course.

·       You will often work in small groups to discuss readings, research a topic, and prepare a student-led discussion session. Student-led discussion sessions allow you to explore particular aspects of a reading and relate them to larger debates or concerns. An outline of your group’s discussion session, complete with bibliography, should be dropped into our class’ myCourses page into the folder marked “Student Led Discussions” by noon on the day of your presentation. Each group should meet with Kim Hoffman, the Research Librarian, a week before the date of their assigned student-led discussion.

·       You are expected to attend five (5) programs that expose you to another culture or address issues of diversity and write a short summary (about one typed page) of each event, explaining why this program is relevant to the class and what you learned from it. There are several options to choose from such as speakers, films, meetings or events sponsored by a cultural group. For information about campus programs, check the Cultural Harmony Week program and the campus events calendar. There are also events in Rochester; check the Baobad African Cultural Center’s page at

·       The final essay will be an evaluation of the semester’s readings and discussions.

·       Class participation: Participation is an important component of what you will take from the class and will be evaluated in two ways: 1) Comments and observations: post a minimum of 10 entries in the folder entitled Comments and Observations on myCourses. I expect thoughtful entries in which you comment on the week’s readings (worth 10% of the final grade). These entries should not be simple rehashing of the reading but connect the material to the course topic and concepts –minimum 1page long, and 2) I expect that you will attend class regularly and participate in discussions (5% of final grade); a great deal of learning occurs when everyone expresses an opinion or shares a particular interpretation of the material, this portion of your grade will reflect your active participation in the class (group assignments and discussions, etc.).



Grade Table:

A   = 94 +                         A- = 90-93

B+ = 87–89                      B   = 84–86                        B- = 80–83

C+ = 77–79                      C   = 74–76                        C - = 70-73

D+  = 67-69                      D = 64-66                          D- = 60-63

E = 0-59


Please note:

* I strongly encourage you to read your syllabus ahead of time. All the information you need is included there and you are responsible to know what readings are assigned and when assignments are due.

** Essays should be properly documented: cite all your sources and include a bibliography. Failure to do so will cost you up to a full grade. Consult the Writing Guide in case you have any questions:

***Late assignments and plagiarism policy: Assignments are due on the date indicated. Late assignments will be heavily penalized. Plagiarism is never condoned and may lead to failing the class. I strongly recommend that you review the College’s policy on plagiarism.

****You will be asked to fill on line SOFIs at the end of the semester. Do so thoughtfully as we use your comments to improve our courses.



You are responsible to hand in short assignments indicated on the syllabus, here is a schedule of essays/reaction papers:

First essay/Reaction paper: October 4th

Second essay: November 27

Discussion sessions: as announced

All diversity experience reviews due on December 4th, NO EXCEPTIONS

Final: Tuesday December 18, 8:00-11:00 am



Allende, Isabel. Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel. Harper Perennial, 1st edition. 9780061988257

Carpentier, Alejo. The Kingdom of this World.FSG 2006 edition. 978-0-374-53011-2


All other readings can be accessed through Course Materials on myCourses.  


From time to time I will upload links articles and other resources on myCourses; please forward me any articles on events that you think might be of interest to the class.




Week 1                       

T 8/28                        INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

                                    Meet your colleague

                                    Team exercises


R 8/30                        Anthropology and the concept of culture

                                    Colonial experience in the New World


                                    Assignment: What do you know about the African Diaspora? Working with your group, select a culture which fits the description of a post-colonial society in the new world or in Africa and explain the reasons why you selected it.


Week 2           


                                    Mbabuike, “Africa Through the Eyes of the African Diaspora” and Alabi, “Recover, not Discover…”


                                    River of life: Congo Odyssey


                                    Discussion: Identify two issues that you find interesting in each of the articles and the npr series. What do these texts add to your understanding of colonization and of contemporary cultures of the African Diaspora? Bring your comments, questions for today’s discussion.


R 9/6                        Introduction to Scholarly Research—Meet in Milne 104

                                    Research Librarian: Kim Hoffman



Week 3           

                                    POST-COLONIAL CARIBBEAN:

                                    COLOR AND NATIONAL IDENDITY AND CULTURE

                                    T 9/11            Reading: Wamba, “Middle Passages” and The Joining of Africa and America”


R 9/13 Reading: Trouillot, “Culture, Color, and Politics in Haiti”


                                    “Haitians, They Call Us Boat People”


                                    Student led discussion: Stereotypes of Haitians-- origins and impact of these stereotypes.



Week 4

T 9/18                        Reading: Munasinghe, “Introduction” to Callaloo or Tossed Salad



R 9/20                         Film: Hosay Trinidad


Week 5           

T 9/25                        Reading:  Thomas, “Introduction” and Ch. 1 “The Problem of Nationalism in the British West Indies; Or, What are We and What do We Want to Be? “ in Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica and  (eRes)


                                    This book is challenging so to help you process the issues it raises you will keep a journal to document your reactions to the book and the film. The journal will serve as one of the sources for your paper.


                                    Discussion: Join your small group for a brief discussion of the articles. Specifically, what do you think Thomas is telling us about the meaning of “identity” and “nation’ in Jamaica? What does it mean to construct an ethnic identity?  How do Jamaican fit in the larger context of the Caribbean and African Diaspora? We will then expand the discussion to the whole class.


                                     **First essay: The paper is due Thursday October 4th.

                                    Essay topics TBA


R 9/27                        Black in Cuba:



                                    View this episode and bring your questions and comments.



Week 6                       

T 10/2                        The New Diaspora: Caribbean out-migration and adaptation to other cultures


                         Small group work: Research Caribbean communities in large cities such as New York, Paris, Montreal, Miami, Toronto, etc. We will assign your group a city and your task will be find out



R 10/4                        Student led discussion

                                    ***First essays are due today




Week 7            

T 10/9                        Fall Break                       



R 10/11                        HAITI: A CASE STUDY  OF NEW WORLD

                                    Begin reading: Alejo Carpentier The Kingdom of this World


                                    Write your thoughts and formulate questions for class discussion



Week 8

T 10/16                        Finish reading The Kingdom of this World

                                    Group discussion of the book


R 10/18                        Haiti and the Dominican Republic:


                                    What connections can you make between what you know of Haitian history and early beginnings and its current situation?

Week 9            


T 10/23                        Reading:. Allende Island Beneath the Sea, Part 1


W 10/25            Reading:  Allende Island Beneath the Sea


                                    Allende’s book takes one steps further than Carpentier’s. What are your thoughts on her interpretation of that history and the evolution of Haitian culture?


Week 10            

T 10/30            Reading: Michel, “Vodou in Haiti: Way of Life and Mode of Survival (eRes) and



                                    Student led discussion:


R 11/1                        Reading: Elizabeth McAlister. "Rara as Popular Army: Hierarchy, Militarism, and Warfare" In Philip W. Scher, ed., Perspectives on the Caribbean: A Reader in Culture, History, and Representation. MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, pp. 129-143.


Check this blog for further insights:




Week 11            

T 11/9                        This week we will watch The Agronomist and at the same time read 2 chapters from Laurent Dubois’ book Haiti: The Aftershocks of History.



                                    Second essay ~ 2nd Essay question will be distributed, essay is due November 27.


R 11/11                        The Agronomist and Dubois



Week 12

T 11/16            Reading: Selection of short articles from Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake.


R 11/18                        Nou Bouke [We're Tired]: Haiti's Past, Present and Future


                        ***Second essay is due Nov 27. Topic TBA



Week 13

T 11/20                        General discussion


R 11/22             Thanksgiving Break


Week 14

T 11/27                        2nd Essays are due today. Please be on time, late submissions severely penalized.

                        Caribbean Diaspora in the US – a patchwork of cultures

                        Being Garifuna:


Latino on culture, color and identity:




R 11/29                        Assignment: Research Caribbean immigrant communities in NYC and bring your findings and video clips.


Week 15           

T 12/4                        Student led discussion: nationalism and globalization through music                       

                                    ***All Diversity Experience write ups are due today, last chance.


R 12/6                        Wrap up and conclusion






Final Exam, Tuesday December 18 8:00-11:00 pm