Caribbean Studies

The department of Romance Studies has a particular strength in the study of the culture, history, literature, and theoretical traditions of the Caribbean. Our focus is at once regional and global, appreciating the Caribbean’s long entanglements as a region is of interest precisely because of it’s long entanglements with other areas throughout the world. We conceive of the region broadly as the “Greater Caribbean,” including the insular or island Caribbean as well as continental regions connected to it, stretching from Charleston to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, and from New Orleans to Veracruz and Cartagena. We also include the region’s large diaspora in Miami, New York, Montreal, Paris, London and other cities. Our research and teaching ranges broadly from the analysis of Caribbean writers, artists and theorists – such as Marie-Vieux Chauvet, Junot Diaz, Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, Wilfredo Lam, José Marti, Pepón Osorio, Mayra Santos, and– to the study of political history and discourse, the history of tourism, and traditions of popular poetry, song and theatre.

We study the Caribbean in order to interpret and challenge broader categories of analysis and theoretical traditions, seeking to re-think the relationship between colonialism and discourse, between the vernacular and the literary, and between politics and art. In so doing we draw on a wide range of approaches, including literary criticism, political philosophy, art history, cultural and performance studies, history and anthropology. We also emphasize the complexities of Caribbean linguistic space, seeking to connect and bridge instruction and scholarship in Spanish, French and Portuguese. We offer three semesters of instruction in Haitian Creole, and the opportunity to work in and on the language at the advanced level in a wide range of courses.

We welcome applications for PhD students interested in working in these areas. Students focusing on Caribbean Studies in the Department of Romance Studies will also be able to draw on the expertise of colleagues in other departments at Duke, including African and African-American Studies, Art History, History, and Sociology, as well as on the activities and resources of the Center for Latin American Studies and the tight connections we have with scholars working on the Caribbean at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition, graduate students working on Caribbean Studies will be able to participate in the activities of the Haiti Laboratory of the Franklin Humanities Institute and other ongoing cross-disciplinary initiatives on campus.