Courses

Spring 2021

Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity: From Slave Ship to Cruise Ship: Empire and Resistance in the Caribbean
This course examines the social and political history of the major islands and societies of the Caribbean Sea. The class will examine the historical changes that unfolded between the seventeenth century and the present, including the conquest and expropriation of Native American land by European settlers, the colonization and enslavement of Africans, labor processes in European colonialism, the expansion of imported East and South Asian laborers, emancipation, transnational migration, and anti-colonial movements. The course will also investigate Caribbean productions at the intersections of race, gender, and culture.
Instructors: Westenley Alcenat
Modern Caribbean History
This course will explore the major issues that have shaped the Caribbean since 1791, including: colonialism and revolution, slavery and abolition, migration and diaspora, economic inequality, and racial hierarchy. We will examine the Caribbean through a comparative approach--thinking across national and linguistic boundaries--with a focus on Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. While our readings and discussions will foreground the islands of the Greater Antilles, we will also consider relevant examples from the circum-Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora as points of comparison.
Instructors: Reena N. Goldthree
Sisters' Voices: African Women Writers
In this class, we study the richness and diversity of poetry, novels, and memoirs written by African women. The course expands students' understanding of the long history of women's writing across Africa and a range of languages. It focuses on their achievements while foregrounding questions of aesthetics and style. As an antidote to misconceptions of African women as silent, students analyze African women's self-representations and how they theorize social relations within and across ethnic groups, generations, classes, and genders. The course increase students' ability to think, speak, and write critically about gender.
Instructors: Wendy Laura Belcher
Beginning Yoruba II
This course is a continuation of Beginning Yoruba I. It continues to offer students intensive training and practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing Yorùbá. In Beginning Yoruba II, students read and listen to texts that provide an introduction to independent research in the Yorùbá culture.
Intermediate Wolof II
This course will further develop students' awareness and understanding of the Wolof language and culture, as well as their mastery of grammar, writing skills, and oral skills. Course materials will incorporate various types of text including tales, cartoons, as well as multimedia such as films, videos, and audio recordings.
Critical African Studies
Critical African Studies is a colloquium designed as a capstone course for African Studies Certificate students. The course is designed to introduce students to cutting-edge scholarship in African Studies. Students engage with African Studies scholars from Princeton University and beyond. In addition to attending the African Studies Lecture Series and Works-in-Progress series, students in Critical African Studies will workshop their junior or senior independent research. This capstone course is open to junior and senior certificate students and must be taken to fulfill the African Studies Certificate requirements.
Instructors: Chambi Seithy Chachage, Titilola Halimat Somotan
Advanced Seminar in American Studies: Multiethnic American Short Stories: Tales We Tell Ourselves
Short stories have been used by writers to make concise, insightful comments about American national identity and individuality. Taken up by African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and many others, the genre has been used to convey experiences with immigration and assimilation, discrimination and oppression, generational divides, and interactions across difference. Examination of such stories deepens our understanding of America's multiethnic landscape. In this seminar, we will explore stories written by a diverse group of writers to consider the ties that both link and divide multiethnic America.
Instructors: Tessa Lowinske Desmond
Native American and Indigenous Studies: An Introduction
This course will introduce students to the comparative study of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. We will take a broad hemispheric approach instead of focusing solely on the experiences of any particular native community, allowing students to both acquaint themselves with the diversity of indigenous communities and better understand the multitude of indigenous experiences--or, what it means to be indigenous--across regional contexts. How do processes of imperial expansionism and settler colonialisms shape the conditions within which indigenous Americans now live? How do native peoples relate to settler colonial governing bodies today?
Instructors: Tiffany Cherelle (Cain) Fryer
Reading Africa: Anthropological Approaches to the Continent
How are anthropologists writing about Africa today? What are their theoretical and thematic preoccupations? How do they stylistically represent the everyday lives of Africans? We will do a close reading of seven full-length ethnographies that chronicle the rich diversity of cultures on the continent. From the production of shea butter by indigenous women, to the crisis in Darfur, the hope and dreams of American Visa lottery winners, the bloody conflict between the international community and Somali pirates, we will read a wide range of ethnographies that challenge prevailing Western stereotypes about what life is really like on the continent.
Instructors: Christina Tekie Collins
Topics in Anthropology: Decolonization
Recent developments have seen a resurgence in the use of the term "decolonization." This course examines the significance of decolonization, beginning with the post-World War II conjuncture and following shifts and continuities in uses of the term both in social theory and by social and political movements. Rather than studying the process country-by-country, we explore decolonization through intellectual, social and political histories of Négritude, Arab existentialism and self-determination. The latter third of the course, we explore changes to the meaning of decolonization when reconceptualized beyond a specific conjuncture, period or age.
Instructors: Mark Drury
Introduction to African Art
An introduction to African art and architecture from prehistory to the 20th century. Beginning with Paleolithic rock art of northern and southern Africa, we will cover ancient Nubia and Meroe; Neolithic cultures such as Nok, Djenne and Ife; African kingdoms, including Benin, Asante, Bamun, Kongo, Kuba, Great Zimbabwe, and the Zulu; Christian Ethiopia and the Islamic Swahili coast; and other societies, such as the Sherbro, Igbo, and the Maasai. By combining Africa's cultural history and developments in artistic forms we establish a long historical view of the stunning diversity of the continent's indigenous arts and architecture.
Instructors: Chika O. Okeke-Agulu
Decolonizing Art History
Art history's disciplinary origins are inextricable from European colonialism and imperialism, and often work to uphold racialized concepts of development, civilization, style. The contemporary practice of art history demands that we acknowledge these origins while imagining a decolonized art history for the present. Drawing from decolonial paradigms, recent scholarship, and foundational texts of critical race studies, we work to analyze and actively reconfigure conventions of field formation, research, and format. In keeping with the political imperative of praxis, students workshop research topics and problems individually and collectively.
Instructors: Beatrice Ellen Kitzinger, Irene Violet Small
Uyghur History: A Survey
This seminar surveys the history of the Uyghurs, a Muslim group of about eleven million living mostly in northwest China. The course draws on a wide range of scholarship on Uyghur history, culture, and religion in order to offer a broad overview of Uyghur history from ancient times to the present. The seminar incorporates numerous translations of Uyghur literature and historical materials, enabling students to encounter native voices directly. Through discussion, readings, and written work building to a final paper, students will come to understand Uyghur history in contexts ranging from ancient nomadic empires to twentieth-century Communism.
Instructors: Joshua Lerman Freeman
Topics in Latinx Literature and Culture: Latinx Literary Worlds
This course will look to the many narratives and histories that comprise the multiple worlds of Latinx Literatures. How does the term Latinx respond to questions of gender and language? What does the history of naming this pan-ethnic group tell us about U.S. racial-ethnic categories? How do borders become an occasion to rethink space and psyche, as well as entangled crisis? Taking a hemispheric approach, this course will examine how Latinx texts lend imagination and poetic vision to the experience of migration, the movements of diaspora, and the lasting effects of colonization.
Instructors: Christina León
Topics in 18th-Century Literature: North American 'Indians' in Transatlantic Contexts
Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor notes the word "indian" is a "colonial enactment" that "has no referent in tribal languages or cultures." But as a trope it has long provided Western culture with a vision of romantic primitivism, of savage cruelty, or of the doomed victims of colonial expansion. This course will examine eighteenth-century transatlantic representations of North American Indigenous people and consider the cultural functions of these representations and their role in settler colonialism. In addition to literary texts, we will also examine art and visual culture, collected objects, and philosophical writing from the period.
Instructors: Robbie John Richardson
Reading Islands: Caribbean Waters, the Archipelago, and its Narratives
The Caribbean is an archipelago made up of islands that both link and separate the Americas - islands that have weathered various waves of colonization, migration, and revolution. How do narratives of the Caribbean represent the collision of political forces and natural environments? Looking to the many abyssal histories of the Caribbean, we will explore questions of indigeneity, colonial contact, iterations of enslavement, and the plantation matrix in literary texts. How do island-writers evoke gender and a poetics of relation that exceeds tourist desire and forceful extraction?
Instructors: Christina León
Literature and Society: Global Perspectives on Environmental Justice through Literature & Film
This interdisciplinary seminar in the environmental humanities explores imaginative and political responses to unequal access to resources and unequal exposure to risk during a time of widening economic disparity. To engage these concerns, we venture to India, Japan, the Caribbean, South Africa, Kenya, the U.S., India, Cambodia, and Bolivia. Issues we address include: the interface between climate justice and social justice; water security, deforestation, the commons, Indigenous movements, the environmentalism of the poor, the gendered and racial dimensions of environmental justice and more-than-human environmental justice.
Instructors: Robert Nixon
Agriculture, Human Diets and the Environment
Food fuels us and our diets connect us with nature at many scales. Yet most of us poorly understand how food is produced and how production processes impact our diets, health, livelihoods and the environment. By the course's end, students will better understand the ethical, environmental, economic, social and medical implications of their food choices. Food production methods ranging from hunting, fishing and gathering to small and large scale crop and animal farming will be examined through lenses of ethics, ecology, evolutionary biology, geography, political economy, social dynamics, physiology, climate change and sustainability.
Instructors: Daniel Ian Rubenstein
The Mother and Father Continent: A Global History of Africa
Africa is both the Mother and Father Continent: it gave birth to Humankind (as a biological species) and our African ancestors created Human history, Culture, and Civilization. Human and Global History developed literally for hundreds of thousands of years in Africa before it spread worldwide. The depth of Africa's history explains the continent's enormous diversity in terms of, for example, genetics and biodiversity and languages and cultures. Moreover, as the course demonstrates, Africa and its societies were never isolated from the rest of the world. Rather, the continent and its peoples remain very much at the center of global history.
Instructors: Emmanuel H. P. M. Kreike
Colonial and Postcolonial Africa
This course is an examination of the major political and economic trends in twentieth-century African history. It offers an interpretation of modern African history and the sources of its present predicament. In particular, we study the foundations of the colonial state, the legacy of the late colonial state (the period before independence), the rise and problems of resistance and nationalism, the immediate challenges of the independent states (such as bureaucracy and democracy), the more recent crises (such as debt and civil wars) on the continent, and the latest attempts to address these challenges from within the continent.
Instructors: Jacob S. Dlamini
Modern Brazilian History
This course examines the history of modern Brazil from its independence in the 1820s to the present day. The lectures, readings, and discussions chart conflict, change, and continuity within Brazilian society, highlighting the role played by disenfranchised social actors in shaping the country's history. Topics include the meanings of political citizenship; slavery and abolition; race relations; indigenous populations; uneven economic development as well as Brazil's experiences with authoritarianism and globalization.
Instructors: Isadora Moura Mota
World After Empire
This seminar will examine this global history of anticolonial, anti-racial, and postcolonial thought during the twentieth century. We will read the works by key 20th century anticolonial thinkers and activists - Mahatma Gandhi, WEB Du Bois, Aimé Césaire, Amilcar Cabral, Albert Memmi, Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, Edward Said, and others. Will read these historical texts critically and ask: How do they understand colonialism and its relationship between colonial domination and race, culture, and economy? How do they understand colonialism as a global system? How do they think of liberation and world transformation?
Instructors: Gyan Prakash
Archiving the American West
Working with Princeton's Western Americana collections, students will explore what archives are and how they are made. Who controls what's in them? How do they shape what historians write? Using little studied collections, students will produce online "exhibitions" for the Library website, and research potential acquisitions for the Library collections. Significant time will be devoted to in-class workshops focused on manuscript and visual materials (all digitized for the class). Special visitors will include curators, archivists, librarians, and dealers.
Instructors: Martha A. Sandweiss
Introduction to Latino/a/x Studies
This is an introductory survey of critical topics, themes, and approaches to the interdisciplinary field of Latin@x Studies. Drawing from anthropology, sociology, history, literature, critical race studies, gender and sexuality studies, this course will analyze the role and position of Latin@x in the United States alongside the policies and practices of the US in the Caribbean and Latin America. The course will explore questions of citizenship, immigration, imperialism, settler/colonialism, border crossing/borderlands, mass incarceration, policing, globalization, and other emerging formations of latinidad from a transnational perspective.
Culture, Politics, and Human Rights in Latin America
From the US-backed dictatorships of the Cold War, to contemporary examples of state violence, many Latin Americans have experienced grave human rights violations. At the same time however, activists in the region have propelled significant international human rights advances. Examining concepts and cases from the anthropology of human rights, this course explores questions of rights as they affect Indigenous peoples, women, gay and lesbian populations, migrants, the urban poor, and children. By analyzing these cases, we will gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and risks facing the future of human rights in the Latin America.
Instructors: Marian Ahn Thorpe
Amazonia, The Last Frontier: History, Culture, and Power
This course focuses on the Brazilian Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest and the ancestral home of over one million indigenous peoples, now threatened by deforestation and fires. Further degradation will have disastrous consequences for its peoples, biodiversity, rainfall and agriculture, and global climate change. Combining perspectives from the social sciences and the humanities, we will critically examine projects to colonize, develop, and conserve the Amazon over time and reflect on the cultural wisdoms of its guardians. Students will work together to develop alternative visions to safeguard the forest for Brazil and the planet.
Instructors: Miqueias Henrique Mugge
Reading the Landscapes of Colonial Latin America
The three centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in the Americas saw some of the most dramatic transformations in global history, from massive population collapse to the first global commodity chains. This course explores the relationships between abstractions like 'colonialism' and 'capitalism' and the concrete places that shaped and were shaped by indigenous rebels, colonial administrators, missionaries, and enslaved laborers. Bringing together insights from history, archaeology, and historical ecology, we will explore these landscapes through a rich combination of archival maps, satellite imagery, and archaeological datasets.
Instructors: Noa Emrys Corcoran-Tadd
Introduction to Latin American Cultures
An introduction to Latin American cultures and artistic and literary traditions through a wide spectrum of materials and short texts. We will discuss relevant issues in Latin American cultural, political, and social history, including the legacy of colonialism and indigenous resistance, national fictions, popular and mass culture, and gender and racial politics. Among others, we will consider short stories by Julio Cortazar and Samanta Schweblin, poems by Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Gillén, paintings by Frida Kahlo, films by Ciro Guerra and Alfonso Cuarón, and Juan Rulfo's short masterpiece Pedro Paramo.
Instructors: Gabriela Nouzeilles
Topics in Latin American Cultural Studies: Invaders as Ancestors, Gods and Vampires
Familiar and unfamiliar beings, under the guise of gods, ancestors or vampire-like creatures, dominate representations of conquest and invasion. Drawing on texts by Indigenous and Spanish authors alike, we examine the reception of these mythic beings and their place in historical narratives of the conquest of Mexico and the Andes.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani

Fall 2020

Olmec Art
This course surveys Olmec and related material culture spanning roughly 2000-500 B.C., including architecture and monumental sculpture, ceramic vessels and figurines, and exquisite small-scale sculpture in jade and other precious materials. Of central theoretical importance is the question of how we understand and interpret art from a distant past, especially without the aid of contemporaneous written records. We will focus on original works of art, including works in the Princeton University Art Museum and in regional collections. Issues of authenticity, quality, and provenance related to these works will also be considered.
Instructors: Bryan R. Just
Special Topics in Poetry: Race, Identity and Innovation
This workshop explores the link between racial identity and poetic innovation in work by contemporary poets of color. Experimental or avant-garde poetry in the American literary tradition has often defined itself as "impersonal," "against expression" or "post-identity." Unfortunately, this mindset has tended to exclude or downplay poems that engage issues of racial identity. This course explores works where poets of color have treated racial identity as a means to destabilize literary ideals of beauty, mastery and the autonomy of the text while at the same time engaging in poetic practices that subvert conceptions of identity or authenticity.
Instructors: Monica Youngna Youn
Introduction to Indigenous Literatures
This course is an introduction to Indigenous Literature. The underlying conviction of the course is that the study of Indigenous literatures offers an occasion to reflect on, critique, and contest settler colonialism, or the dispossession of land and waters and the attempt to eliminate Indigenous people. Readings primarily consist of American Indian and Aboriginal Canadian authors, yet we also place these authors in the context of the global phenomenon of indigeneity and settler colonialism. The syllabus encourages us to wonder how Indigenous authors across time and space are in conversation, or can be put into conversation, with each other.
Instructors: Sarah Rivett
Colonial Latin America to 1810
What is colonization? How does it work? What kind of societies does it create? Come find out through the lens of the Latin America. First we study how the Aztec and Inca empires subdued other peoples, and how Muslim Iberia fell to the Christians. Then, we learn about Spanish and Portuguese conquests and how indigenous resistance, adaptation, and racial mixing shaped the continent. You will see gods clash and meld, cities rise and decline, and insurrections fail or win. Silver mines will boom and bust, slaves will toil and rebel; peasants will fight capitalist encroachments. This is a comprehensive view of how Latin America became what it is.
Instructors: Vera Silvina Candiani
Environmental Sovereignties: Indigenous Social Movements in the Americas
In this course we will examine how Indigenous peoples in the Americas have mobilized in the protection of environmental rights, against extractivism, and in defense of natural resource, territorial, and political sovereignty. We will draw connections and explore differences in the panorama of Indigenous social movements in hemispheric perspective, and the nature of state and elite responses to these protest movements. In so doing, we will draw out a broader understanding of how flashpoint moments of protest expose the political, social, and colonial fault lines that underpin everyday life in the Americas.
Instructors: Bridgette Kathleen Werner
Political Natures: The Politics of Nature and Development in Latin America
Popular imaginaries depict Latin America as both brimming with pristine nature and afflicted with devastating environmental degradation. This seminar explores Latin American nature as an ecological, political and cultural creation, asking: Where do these imaginaries of pristine/despoiled nature come from? How are they used, perpetuated or debunked by scientists, Indigenous peoples, politicians and NGOs? We apply these questions to an array of environmental issues, including climate change, deforestation and ecotourism, to analyze the effects of these imaginaries on people's lived experiences of nature, conservation and economic development.
Languages of the Americas
This course explores the vast linguistic diversity of the Americas: native languages, pidgins, creoles, mixed languages, and other languages in North, Central, and South America, including the Caribbean. We will examine historical and current issues of multilingualism to understand the relationship between language, identity, and social mobility. We will discuss how languages played a central role in colonization and nation-building processes, and how language policies contribute to linguistic loss and revitalization. This course has no prerequisites and is intended for students interested in learning more about languages in the Americas.
Instructors: Dunia Catalina Méndez Vallejo