HY246GC      Half Unit
The Global Caribbean in the Twentieth Century: Colonialism, Race and Revolutions (Spring Semester)

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Oscar Webber SAR M.13


This course is available to General Course ‘Spring Semester’ 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 period after the First World War 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: 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.


Students will engage with the course in a variety of ways. There will be pre-recorded lectures with some lectures including externally sourced video content. The lectures will be posted a week in advance of the classes.

Classes will be conducted either in person for one hour or via Zoom. During classes students will discuss in groups one primary source and two secondary readings. All secondary sources will be available via Moodle and primary sources will be sent to students via email or provided in class one week in advance of the class.

For those students who are in varied time zones online moodle forums will be used to ensure they engage with class discussion and this will be considered part of their class participation grade.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the Lent Term.

Indicative reading

  • Bolland, O Nigel, On the March: Labour Rebellions in the British Caribbean, 1934-39 (Kingston: Ian Randle, 1995).
  • Briggs, Laura, Reproducing empire: race, sex, science and US imperialism in Puerto Rico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).
  • Childers, Kristen Stromberg, Seeking Imperialism’s Embrace: national identity, decolonization and assimilation in the French Caribbean (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • Duke, Eric D, Building a Nation: Caribbean federation in the black diaspora (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2016)
  • Dubois, L. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2004).
  • Dubois, L, and Garrigus, J (eds)., Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804: A History in Documents (New York: Bedford Press, 2006).
  • Ferrer, Ada, Freedom's Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
  • Higman, B W, A Concise History of the Caribbean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • Heuman, Gad, The Caribbean: a brief history (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013).
  • Holt, Thomas, The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938 (Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992).
  • Palmié Stephan and Francisco A. Scarano (eds.) The Caribbean: a history of the region and its peoples (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011).
  • Parker, Jason, Brother’s Keeper: The United States, Race and Empire in the British Caribbean 1927-1962 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
  • Putnam, Lara, The Company they Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002).
  • Renda, Mary L, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of US Imperialism 1915-1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
  • Quinn, Kate, (ed), Black Power in the Caribbean (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014).


Essay (70%, 3500 words) in the ST.
Class participation (15%) and source analysis (15%) in the LT.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills