Caribbean Revolts and Revolutions

Hello all, I’ve created my final project.

For the full scale version please go to Caribbean Revolts and Revolutions.
As the map doesn’t offer a particularly good space for a Project Narrative, I’ve included it below.


Caribbean Revolts and Revolutions Project Narrative

This project grew out of an earlier research page, in which I collected various links to pages concerned with various Caribbean Revolts and Revolutions. The map, however, productively develops that original impetus into a more accessible and engaging project.

My goal with Caribbean Revolts and Revolutions was to construct an accessible and engaging introduction for the novice scholar (high school student), to the varieties of Caribbean revolts and revolutions, and to help elucidate the relationships and differences among them. This required briefly narrativizing the events, presenting various highlights, and constructing enough background information that the casual reader could come away from the webpage with some better insight into Caribbean history. In other words, the goal was for the site’s reader to organically come to a better understanding by considering and juxtaposing the various events, rather than me making critical claims about the events.

Of course there are some challenges with this approach, foremost being the long history and wide varieties of Caribbean revolts and revolutions. It would be an impossible (though an admirable) goal to adequately cover all of the rebellions which have taken place in the Caribbean. Rather, I had to select those narratives which 1. I had sufficient information on and 2. would work in productive juxtaposition with each other. Additionally I avoided Wikipedia, or other such encyclopedic sites to use as sources in favor of smaller passion projects— such as research papers which had been made available by the author online, or sites which sought to address a particular gap in history.  The goal with this site is to serve as initial introduction to a variety of voices, rather than act as “the final word.”

For images I chose not only those which were in the Commons, but also those which would help to create a unified visual aesthetic. By presenting a larger map, as well as a smaller image of each island, I feel like I was able to simultaneously point towards each island’s own particular history, as well as its placement and relationship to and within a larger arena of influence. This was also assisted by arranging the slides chronologically. For instance the St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Grenada slides depict islands which are not only geographically near to each other, but which also describe revolts which were suppressed by the same British forces. Simultaneously though, each island, and each slide, represents its own unique history. The particular history and revolts of St. Lucia are not exactly like those of St. Vincent.

In total I’m satisfied with the overall aesthetics of the map, and I feel that the information is generally accessible and clear. I also feel that I was fairly successful in regards to my goal of attempting to help the novice scholar gain a sort of knowledge which is broad, while also allowing for further investigation.

There are some interesting threads which arrive out of the completed project, for instance the ways in which some Caribbean revolts took their cue from, and were influenced by the French revolution. Similarly, over the course of the map one can see ways in which the Caribbean has continued to be a struggle between outside forces which have imposed their military and economic might on the Caribbean. For instance, in what ways might we consider relations between the First and Second Carib Wars and the Zapatista uprising? Or what relations might we draw between the British invasion of Guyana and America support of the Dominican Republic dictator Trujillo? As mentioned earlier, I think these questions arise organically out of the map and its juxtapositions, rather than in me making particular critical claims about such relationships.

Some difficulties in bringing this project together came out of the inevitable challenges in learning the workings of a new digital environment. Once one has it figured out, the KnightLab StoryMap structure works well. That being said I had some not insignificant difficulties in figuring out the first steps (the KnightLab instructions were not always super clear, though the forum proved helpful). I also had to purchase the Zoomify software (from another party, not KnightLab. On the site KnightLab described the software as free, but I suspect Zoomify updated their software, and made it to be purchased) in order to get the zooming tiles to work. An additional difficulty was in figuring out what information to put into the map. Many revolts get scant mention on the internet (and probably in history too). As such certain possible inclusions were passed over, and inevitably some important events were missed too, probably from my own oversight. Luckily it will not be difficult for me to further revise the project, should need be, further down the road as my own personal research and understanding develops. With that being said, there remains the danger of over burdening the map and mitigating its introductory and pedagogical functions.

All in all I’m satisfied with the final project, and I have to thank KnightLab for making an excellent and generally accessible resource, and the Digital Library of the Caribbean for making available such a fantastic resource of Caribbean images in the Commons. Furthermore, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t thank my peers in the Digital Caribbean class for their excellent comments, insights, and conversations.

One comment

  1. John Thornton

    A very interesting project! Do you plan to do more on this topic?

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