Spring ID Course: ‘Africa in the Americas’: Language and Culture in Belize

By Purnell T. Cropper | October 26, 2010

“Africa in the Americas”: Language and Culture in Belize is an undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary course (4 or 6 credits) that will focus on the history of the African-descended Garifuna in southern Belize and the attempts by members of the ethnic group to maintain visibility within mainstream Belizean culture and society.

In the Arcadia classroom, students will be introduced to various methods of cultural preservation in the country, including language; rituals and customs; literature, and music. Students will explore if the conscious support of historical traditions affects current attitudes about race and progress in the region. Does the rapidity at which current generations attempt to ensure their footprint on the world map (technology and popular culture) belie the importance of cultural traditions and folkways? How does the “economics of poverty” factor into the equation? Students also will discuss the effects of colonialism, migration to the Belize from the West Indies, and the role of the labor within the “global south.”

The travel component will include focused presentations on local history and contemporary politics in Belize City. Students also will stay in Dangriga, a town steeped in Garifuna culture. Here they will volunteer at a local bilingual school, witness storytelling, as well as embark on excursions related to the course subject. A significant segment of the travel component will include discussions and presentations regarding efforts to preserve culture and history and the exploration of bilingual literacy in urban and rural environments.

Contact Dr. Kalenda Eaton at eatonk@arcadia.edu or 215-572-2964 for more information. View flier for more information about the course.