For over a century, U.S. imperial domination over Latin America and the Caribbean has taken different forms. In 1898, Cuba became a neocolonial appendix, while Puerto Rico became an “unincorporated territory” of the United States. The Dominican Republic experienced the repercussions of an invasion in 1916, and has continued to experience a direct yet invisible U.S. presence in its government since then. Beyond its overt and covert political presence, U.S. imperialism has also informally impacted the lives of Caribbean people across the landscapes of education, health, domestic relations, religion, culture, migration, and disaster relief, to name a few. In this course, we will explore different economic, intellectual, social, and cultural imprints that American imperialism has left on these societies. The focus on this region of key geopolitical importance for the United States will allow students to recognize U.S. imperial dynamics as well as the multiple and fragmented ways in which common people from these impacted societies have responded to domination.
In a microhistory research paper, students will analyze a brief textual or visual source, and use it as a window through which to view the connections between a particular experience or event and broader aspects of the society and the times in which the experience occurred. By conducting this project of inquiry, students will be able to study the actions of one or more people of the past whose experiences can shed light on some major historical and contemporary issues related to the effects of U.S. imperialism. The research paper will be developed in stages, through a variety of required homework assignments. In addition to this paper and attendant homework, students will be evaluated on the basis of weekly quizzes, in-class work, presentations, and class participation.