Teaching "the Americas"



Paton D, Beck J & Robinson G (2004) Teaching "the Americas". Radical History Review, (89), pp. 218-229.

First paragraph: For the past two years, we and other colleagues at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (U.K.) have taught a one-year master's program, "The Americas: Histories, Societies, Cultures." The degree has the stated aim of providing "an innovative, interdisciplinary MA that seeks to develop understanding of the political, historical, and cultural formations of the modern Americas, including North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean." Our goals in establishing the program shared much with the aims of this issue ofRadical History Review, whose editors express the desire to "move beyond the bifurcating paradigms of Latin American area studies and American (U.S.-based) studies . . . [to examine] relationships among North America, Latin America, Caribbean, and other island societies and cultures, including histories of colonization, slavery, migration, capitalist development, and nation-state formation." In designing and teaching the program, we have had to confront the power of both disciplinary and nation-/region-based formations of knowledge, manifested both in our own backgrounds and training and in that of our students. Equally important, disciplinary habits and administrative practices at the university level have sometimes made running an interdisciplinary program unnecessarily complex. Although interdisciplinarity is supposedly an institutional goal, in practice, the conventional institutional structuring of scholarship does not always provide support for it. However, the resulting program has been challenging and exciting to teach and has stimulated our own research, in particular by posing sharp questions about the conceptual tools necessary for making comparisons and tracing connections among American societies.

Radical History Review, Issue 89

Publication date30/04/2004
PublisherDuke University Press
Publisher URL…9.1robinson.html

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Dr Gemma Robinson

Dr Gemma Robinson

Senior Lecturer, English Studies