The Global Caribbean: Colonialism, Race and Revolutions 1780s-1980s

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Imaobong Umoren SAR 3.07


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and History. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available to General Course students.

Course content

Lying southeast of North America, north of South America and east of Central America, the Caribbean, while geographically small, has played a major role in global history. Over the course of five-hundred-years the Caribbean has been at the centre of clashes and encounters between indigenous peoples, Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, and Asians all of which has led to momentous political, social, economic and cultural change.  Far from simply being a tropical tourist paradise or tax haven, the Caribbean is widely recognised as being a key site of modernity through the role the region has played in global historical processes of exploration, colonialism, transatlantic slavery, capitalism, revolution, wars, migrations and diasporas. Critical movements have emerged from the Caribbean ranging from pan-African consciousness, creolisation, Garveyism, Rastafarianism, and multiculturalism all of which had an impact in Africa, Asia, the United States, Europe and Latin America. The Caribbean has spawned foundational writers, artists, and intellectuals like José Martí, C L R James, Una Marson, Eric Williams, Nicolás Guillén, Sam Selvon, Jean Price-Mars, Aimé Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, Fidel Castro, Claudia Jones, Walter Rodney, Bob Marley, and contemporary figures such as Edwidge Danticat and Junot Diaz who have provided critical commentary on the region and its links to the wider world.

This course delves into all of these issues and presents an overview of Caribbean political, economic, social and cultural history from the height of transatlantic slavery to the postcolonial era in the 1980s. It especially focuses on the three central themes of American and European colonialism, race and revolution and takes an expansive view of the Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanic Caribbean. Wherever possible, comparisons and contrasts with the United States and Latin America are drawn upon. Weekly topics that will be explored in lectures and classes include: European Colonial Encounters; transatlantic slavery and the making of ‘race’; the structure of slave societies: plantations and Maroons; the Haitian Revolution; abolition, apprenticeship and emancipation in the British and French Caribbean; Asian Indentureship and the continuation of slavery in the Hispanic Caribbean; Independence, Wars, and the rise of US imperialism in the Hispanic Caribbean; inter-regional labour migrations and radicalism; the First World War; extra-regional labour migrations, black internationalism, Negritude, and Afrocubanismo; the US Occupation of the Dominican Republic and Haiti; economic Depression and Labour Rebellions; the Second World War and Departmentalisation in the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean; the Cold War; the Cuban Revolution and Caribbean Federation; Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean; the Black Power Movement; neo-colonialism, tourism, and violence in the postcolonial era; the politics of reparations.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the Michaelmas and the Lent Terms.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Indicative reading


Essay (35%, 3500 words) in the LT.
Essay (35%, 3500 words) in the ST.
Class participation (15%) in the MT and LT.
Source analysis (15%) in the MT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2018/19: 12

Average class size 2018/19: 13

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills