Journeying with the Amistad
Multiple Dimensions of Slavery and Freedom
The Caribbean region can be understood as a fascinating natural laboratory of cultural and ethnic diversity. This January, students have the opportunity to conduct research through a specially-designed three-week winter course comprising an integrated set of courses dedicated to the study of the historical, socio-political, and economic structures and processes that have shaped the Caribbean into the culturally complex region it is today.
About the Program
This dynamic program is a collaboration between the Departments of Africana Studies, Anthropology. and Sociology, the College of Advancing and Professional Studies, the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, and the Amistad project. The program offers students an interdisciplinary approach integrating sociological, anthropological, and historical perspectives to the study of Caribbean society and culture.
Students will be introduced to key social-scientific concepts such as race, ethnicity, slavery, nation, culture, and their relevance (or irrelevance) in the attempt to understand Caribbean cultures and identities. Students will learn about the contributions of different ethnic groups to modern Caribbean culture, and examine the processes by which these various contributions were blended and transformed through cultural interactions, taking into account the power relations between groups throughout different historical periods.
Students will also be introduced to the major issues regarding U.S. involvement in the Caribbean. The intent will be to consider the variety of traditions making up Caribbean identity, in particular Afro-Caribbean identities, but also identities based on Hispanic, English, French, Dutch, East Indian, Native Indian, and mestizo heritage, among others, as well as identity issues in countries and regions on the Atlantic coast of Central and South America.
This program will draw heavily on the study of material culture and cultural productions (archaeological sites, architecture, literature, plastic arts) interpreted as "texts" that speak about the political, economic, and social conditions in which they were produced, and which ultimately point to the debates that play a key role in the construction of contemporary identities in the region. Social science methodology will be strongly emphasized with a view to helping students develop research projects.
In addition to classroom study and lectures by guest speakers, students will participate in such course-related activities as field trips to major cities, museums, and historical and archeological sites.
With the Amistad ship arriving in San Juan, Puerto Rico while UMass Boston students are there, the program will have an additional focus on slavery and its legacy in the Caribbean region. Students and faculty will have access to the ship, with field trips and lectures held on board.
Following students’ on-island and on-ship studies in Puerto Rico, students will travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and to the Dominican Republic for additional research and coursework.
Students will be housed in a ship provided by the Amistad project and will be able to access libraries, museums, computer labs, and recreational facilities.
|Jan 2-9||Puerto Rico: San Juan, Ponce, Loiza, Vieques|
|Jan 10-15||U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John|
|Jan 16-22||Dominican Republic|
Upon successful completion, students will earn a total of 6 undergraduate credits (graduate students can make special arrangements with the organizers to earn graduate credits) in two UMass Boston courses:
- The first course can be either AFRSTY 225: The Origins of the Caribbean Civilization (3 credits) or ANTH 274: Peoples and Cultures of the Caribbean (3 credits)
- The second course is an Independent Study that can be conducted with the Africana Studies Department (AFRSTY 479 Independent Study) or the Sociology Department (SOCIOL 478 Directed Study) or the Anthropology Department (ANTH 479 Directed Study). This course is for 3 credits.
The winter program will be jointly directed and taught by Professors Jorge Capetillo-Ponce, Tony Van Der Meer, and Lorna Rivera from UMass Boston and Professor Luis Galanes from University of Puerto Rico at Cayey.
As co-director of the Caribbean Studies Summer Institute, Professor Capetillo-Ponce has been developing and leading academic programs to the Caribbean for close to 10 years. He is an associate professor in the Sociology Department, and director of Latino Studies.
Tony Van Der Meer
Senior lecturer in the Africana Studies Department. Professor Van Der Meer is the former Chairman of the Black Political Task Force of Boston. Professor Van Der Meer’s area of research is focused on African diaspora religion and culture and its image in the mass media.
Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Latino Studies, and Director of the Latino Leadership Opportunity Program at the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Public Policy, an applied research training program that focuses on social issues affecting Latino communities. Professor Rivera’s expertise is in feminist theory, gender, and slavery in the Caribbean, and gender and literacy in the US.
Professor of Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey. Professor Galanes co-directs the Caribbean Studies Summer Institute with Professor Capetillo-Ponce. In this collaborative summer program, he leads a cohort of University of Puerto Rico students to study alongside UMass Boston students and others from the continental United States.
Please be advised that international programs are subject to change, slight or major, at any time due to circumstances beyond our control; this includes any and all fees, dates, itinerary, and program activities. We will do our best to inform all applicants of any changes in as timely a manner as possible.