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Fall 2015

Encountering Cuba – Global Race, Postcoloniality, Cultural Expression

Kandice Chuh (Graduate Center, English) and Sujatha Fernandes (Queens College, Sociology)

Cuba has long loomed large in the U.S. imagination, whether by virtue of its refusal to embrace capitalism, the richness of its literary and musical traditions, the persistence of Fidel Castro's leadership, its proximity to the US coastal state of Florida and the migrants, exiles, and refugees who crossed the Florida Straits, and, now, because of the changing relations between the two countries. This team-taught, interdisciplinary course offers the opportunity to consider how ideas of Cuba and "Cubanness" take shape through literary and other aesthetic modes of expression, and to examine the ways in which such ideas are grounded in or depart from the everyday lives and political and cultural practices characterizing life in Cuba. What understandings of Cuba emerge by understanding it as a key site in the long histories of capital-driven migrations? How might racial formation be theorized through this space characterized by multiple forms of racialization, colonial histories, and ex-colonial nationalism? In what ways does Cuba exemplify and generate Caribbean and Latin American epistemologies, and what remains distinctive "about" Cuba and Cubanness? We will address such questions by studying the literature, film, history, sociology, and political theory, that help us encounter Cuba from multiple points of entry.

Students should expect to contribute regularly to this discussion-based seminar, and to submit several writing assignments as the formal requirements of the course.

Global Perspectives on Language and Education

Ofelia Garcia (Graduate Center, Urban Education and Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages) and Carmina Makar (City College, Teaching Learning and Culture)

This seminar will engage students in critically thinking about how language policies in society and education are linked to sociopolitical ideologies in different nation-states. The seminar focuses on the role that language policies, enacted from the top, have played in constructing, sometimes, better futures, but other times, inequities and differences among speakers with various social characteristics. The seminar will also expand understandings of how people at the local level, as well as educators, negotiate language and literacy policies from the bottom-up. To enlarge these theoretical understandings, cases are drawn from throughout the world, using a global lens to expand our local understandings and practices. New York City will also serve as the laboratory to study the language practices of different communities and to reflect on the relationship between those practices and the language policies in New York City schools.