Graduate Caribbean Studies at the University of Miami

The University of Miami is recognized internationally for its interdisciplinary strength in Caribbean Studies. Our faculty stands at the forefront of the field, with a particular interest in transcultural and transnational connections across the region, hemisphere, and Atlantic world. 
 
Miami has the second largest population from the Caribbean in the US. According to the U.S. census (2010-2014), close to 4 million Caribbean immigrants currently live in the U.S., and they represent 9 percent of the total immigrant population in the country.  An estimated 1,176,000 of those immigrants reside in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area and most of them are located in urban areas (Migration Policy Institute). Populations from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are technically not immigrants and therefore excluded from these numbers; but migrants from these US territories are undoubtedly part of the Caribbean communities in Miami.  Given this demographic reality, as well as the Miami’s location in the Caribbean region, the University of Miami aims to serve as an incubator and bridge for research initiatives in the Caribbean basin.

Graduate studies in Caribbean Studies at UM

At the University of Miami, graduate students can complete a Doctoral Concentration in Caribbean Studies in conjunction with the individual Ph.D. requirements for the Departments English, History, and Modern Languages and Literatures.

The scholarly study of the Caribbean has developed as a multi-disciplinary field, and Caribbean-focused faculty members in these departments are committed to bringing interdisciplinary perspectives to bear in their own scholarship and in the training of Ph.D. students. Through the doctoral concentration, graduate students working on the Caribbean gain valuable historical, literary, and/or social scientific perspectives on their own fields of study.  Ph.D. students pursuing the doctoral concentration take a minimum of two Caribbean-focused courses (6 credit hours) within their home department, and a minimum of two Caribbean-focused courses (6 credit hours) outside of their department.

In the Department of English, faculty publish and teach on Caribbean literary and intellectual histories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; literatures of race, immigration and diaspora; globalization; black feminist thought; race, sexuality, national identity, and citizenship; popular cultures; and the contemporary visual arts. The department’s additional strengths in American, African American, and African literary studies, as well as in Early Modern literature, British and Irish literatures, and postcolonial studies foster a rich climate for the study of Caribbean literatures and cultures transnationally. In addition, the department supports the publication of Anthurium, a bi-annual, peer-reviewed, open access journal of Caribbean Studies that publishes original works and critical studies of Caribbean literature, theater, film, art, and culture in electronic form. Graduate students have the opportunity to apply for an RA-ship to work as assistant editors on the journal.

Faculty members in the Department of History work on cultural, intellectual, political, and social histories of the Caribbean and Atlantic world from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. They study histories of colonialism, slavery, revolution, capitalism, emancipation, indenture, empire, nationalism, labor mobilization, the Cold War, neocolonialism, and globalization, through focal points such as law and religion, migration and travel, material cultures and consumption, medicine and healing, gender and sexuality, performance and sport. The department’s additional strengths in African, African diasporic, African American, Early Modern, Latin American, and United States histories encourage transatlantic, transnational, and interdisciplinary perspectives on Caribbean history, culture, and society.

Major areas of faculty focus in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL) , include colonial and postcolonial studies, digital humanities; Caribbean and Latinx performance and theater studies; nineteenth through twenty-first century literatures of the Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean; sociolinguistics of the Hispanophone Caribbean; literatures of immigration and diaspora; globalization and transnational studies; transnational feminisms; and cultural policy. MLL supports the publication of the Cuban Theater Digital Archive, an online resource for research, teaching, and learning in Cuban theater and performance as well as in related fields. Graduate students in MLL have the opportunity to apply for an RA-ship to work as assistant editors on the digital archive, or to work with senior Caribbeanists in literary and cultural studies research projects. The study of Caribbean literature and culture in the department also include topics in Africana, Arabic, Brazilian, Iberian, early Spanish American, and Latin American cultural and literary studies; as well as in Early Modern studies, gender studies, immigration studies, indigenous studies, and queer studies.

Students pursuing the doctoral concentration are able to take relevant Caribbean-focused graduate courses in other departments. In the Department of Anthropology, for example, faculty scholarship and teaching on the Caribbean encompasses family and kinship; the cultural politics of race, sexuality, and gender; health, medicine, and human security; Black feminist and queers of color theory; violence and marginalization; patterns of subsistence, mobility, and environmental interaction in prehistoric human populations; and ethnographic methodology and writing. In the Department of Art and Art History, faculty work on Caribbean and Latin American modernisms, the work of Caribbean women artists, nineteenth century Caribbean portraiture, and Caribbean art in the global imaginary. In the Department of Musicology (part of the Frost School of Music) faculty study Caribbean music transnationally, with reference to wider African diasporic histories and cultures, and the contemporary forces and circuits of globalization. Areas of research and teaching focus include religion and healing; identity construction and nationalism; industry and audience; and cultural politics and policy. Students can also request that graduate courses in the Latin American Studies Program count towards the doctoral concentration.

Beyond the strengths of UM’s academic departments and the UM Libraries in Caribbean Studies, other university resources plus our location in Miami make UM an ideal site to pursue graduate training in Caribbean Studies. Graduate students have the opportunity to take part in the work of Hemispheric Caribbean Studies. This collective of faculty and graduate students across diverse fields is a university hub for exchange and collaboration, building on the long and distinguished history of Caribbean-focused programming across CAS departments, programs, and centers. Soon our students will also have access to the academic and curricular initiatives that will be promoted by the Miami Center for Global Black Studies and the Program in Native American and Global Indigenous Studies. Graduate students participating in the doctoral concentration also have the chance to take part in lectures, workshops, symposia, and conferences sponsored by the Center for the Humanities and its interdisciplinary research groups. The Programs in Africana Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies further enrich Caribbean-related programming and opportunities at UM. In addition, graduate students have the chance to take advantage of the rich permanent collections of the Lowe Art Museum, with impressive strengths in Latin American and Caribbean visual art. 

UM faculty members maintain close and collaborative relations with Caribbean-focused colleagues at institutions across the circum-Caribbean and at other South Florida universities. These include: the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (Haiti); the Université d’État d’Haïti; the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras; the University of Puerto Rico, Utuado; the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe; the Universidad del Turabo (Puerto Rico); the University of the West Indies, Mona (Jamaica); the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (Trinidad and Tobago); the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill (Barbados); and Cuba’s Casa de las Américas, Instituto Superior de Arte, Consejo Nacional de las Artes Escénicas, and Universidad de La Habana. Since 1999, UM Caribbean Literary and Cultural Studies has been a key institutional partner on the annual West Indian Literature Conference, which it hosts every five years. In addition, faculty in English have a long history of collaboration with the Small Axe Project, convening international symposia at UM and Columbia University that culminate in the publication of essays in Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism. A current collaboration between the two campuses and the Small Axe Project centers on a cross-disciplinary re-assessment of pivotal decades in modern Jamaican history.

Graduate students from UM, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International University jointly co-organize the Annual South Florida Latin America and Caribbean Studies Graduate Student Conference, rotating among the three campuses. Our graduate students are also eligible to take courses at FIU—extending the Caribbean-focused offerings available to them—and to take advantage of FIU’s rich library resources.

There is also a long history of UM faculty and graduate student collaboration with institutions in greater Miami such as the Black Archives History & Research Foundation, HistoryMiami Museum, Little Haiti Cultural Center, Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami and the Wolfsonian-FIU. Miami is often described as a Caribbean city, and students pursuing the doctoral concentration will find that their opportunities for study and research extend well beyond campus borders.

Some of the research and teaching areas involving faculty and students from several programs and departments are:

  • Afro-Asian, Afro-Caribbean Studies, Critical Race Theory
  • Archipelagic Caribbean Studies
  • Caribbean Intellectual Histories and Social Movements
  • Colonial, Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies
  • Comparative Caribbean Studies
  • Creole/Creolization Studies
  • Diaspo-Caribbean Studies
  • Digital Humanities
  • Gender, Sexuality and Trans studies in the Caribbean
  • Hemispheric Caribbean Studies
  • Medicine and Healing
  • Migration and Coloniality of Diasporas
  • Museum and Archival Studies
  • Performance Studies
  • Religion and Law
  • Among other topics

 


 

Mentoring Opportunities and Resources

Graduate students will have access to the following resources and opportunities at UM:

University of Miami Libraries

  • The Department of Special Collections is home to a wide array of Caribbean-focused rare books, manuscripts, archival collections, photographs and audio-visual items, maps, architectural drawings, artists’ books, zines, photographic collections, and other research materials. Collections particularly strong in Caribbean materials include the Jay I. Kislak Foundation Collection, one of the most important concerning the history of the early Americas, and the Pan American World Airways Collection, providing insight into the history of commerce and tourism in the twentieth-century Caribbean.
  • The Cuban Heritage Collection is home to the largest repository of materials on Cuba outside of the island and the most comprehensive collection of resources about Cuban exile history and the global Cuban diaspora experience.  

Anthurium

Open access publication in Caribbean Studies. Editorial assistantship positions for graduate students in the English department.  Visit the Anthurium website.  

 

Research Assistantships and co-teaching

Research Assistantships and co-teaching of upper division courses in Caribbean Studies.

 
Cuban Theater Digital Archive

The Cuban Theater Digital Archive (CTDA) is a resource for research, teaching and learning in Cuban theater and performance.  Visit the Cuban Theater Digital Archive website.  

 


 

Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics

Our graduate students can take team-taught seminars hosted by the institute that combine the face-to-face quality of traditional classrooms with online collaboration, enabling students throughout the Americas to communicate and work together online. Students can also participate in the Hemi’s Caribbean Performativities Working Group as well as in the Encuentros and the Hemi Graduate Student Initiative. As a member institution, we also have access to the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library (HIDVL), which includes over 900 hours of videos of performance practices in the Americas.


UM Sources of Funding for UM Graduate Students in Caribbean Studies

In addition to the support provided by their own departments, graduate students are eligible to seek research funding from these internal sources:


 


 

Faculty Mentors

The University of Miami has more than 60 faculty members working on Caribbean studies across several schools. 

 

For questions about Caribbean Studies offerings at UM, please contact: