The Atlantic Diasporas

Discipline: History
Instructor: Walker
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1300
End: 1415
Field Work: Day 1 - Wednesday, 11 November | Brazil Download Syllabus

Atlantic World history, which began with the age of sail, is a story of explorations, encounters and migrations; conquest, resistance, subjugation, and revolution; the destruction of indigenous societies and the creation of new identities and cultures; the heart-breaking brutality and injustice of slavery and the emerging enlightened views on human rights; and forever changing demographic, cultural, social, religious and political configurations. The Atlantic World is a recent and yet well-established historical paradigm, a regional narrative with diverse currents and tangents. The course will highlight several aspects of this approach to history, including historical geography, the duality of cultural exchanges, the role of labor and trade in shaping the environment, the evolving constructs of race and gender, the rise of empire and its eventual crisis, and the evolving social, religious and political norms in these communities connected by an ocean. In readings and discussions on these topics, we may come to better understand the modern Atlantic World we inhabit today.


Field Work

Country: Brazil
Day: 1 - Wednesday, 11 November

Salvador was the first colonial capital of Brazil, the seat of the first Catholic bishopric in South America, and a hub for the later slave trade. Today, Salvador has become known for its flourishing Afro-Brazilian culture, its arts and its social liveliness (the city is known as the ‘Capital of Joy” because of its numerous, week-long outdoor celebrations). On this Field Lab, accompanied by an expert in local history, we will explore the historic Pelourinho district  (a World Heritage site) and Liberdade (Brazil’s Harlem) as well as the city’s museums and churches to see what architecture, art and artifacts can tell us about how the colonial period shaped the evolution of Brazil into a modern nation-state. Students will be asked to give their perspectives on that issue through a journal kept during the day and an essay summarizing their conclusions. Academic objectives:

  1. To gain an appreciation for the cultures of pre-colonial indigenous peoples in South America
  2. To get a first-hand impression of urban life in colonial Brazil
  3. To begin to understand the impact of slavery on the emergence of an early Atlantic world