A Micro-History of the Caribbean

A Micro-History of the Caribbean

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.

 

Instructor Bio

Dr. Arlene J. Diaz is a Associate Professor in the Department of History. She has published articles on the history of Venezuela, Cuba, and Brazil, and has a book on gender relations and law in nineteenth-century Venezuela. She is now working on a book project, tentatively entitled "The Invisible War: Spies and War Correspondents in the Making of the Spanish-Cuban-American War and the American Empire, 1892-1908," that applies methods borrowed from the digital humanities to uncover how different narratives on this war evolved through some of the major historical groups of actors such as spies, private capital, newspapers, and government agents from the three countries involved. The use of a large amount of multiple, diverse and transnational sources allow this project to trace how American dominant narrative on this was constructed by 1898. As one of the principal investigators for the Indiana University History Learning Project, she co-authored some articles on the scholarship of teaching and learning.