Curriculum Resources

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African Diaspora in Latin America

The term African Diaspora refers to the communities of persons throughout the world who descend from African peoples. The Atlantic Slave Trade forced more than 10 million Africans to the New World, with vast numbers relocated to present day Latin America and the Caribbean. Brazil alone received almost 5 million. The African diaspora continues to this day to shape and enrich the social, economic, and cultural realities of Latin America.

Lesson Guides and Classroom Activities

Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy Lesson Plan

Grade Levels: 5–8, 9–12, College
Subject Area(s): Social Studies (Economics, Geography, Human geography, Sociology)
In Poto Mitan, each of the five women’s personal story explains neoliberal globalization, how it is gendered, and how it impacts Haiti: inhumane working/ living conditions, violence, poverty, lack of education, and poor health care. This lesson has been designed to use this 45-minute documentary Poto Mitan as a case study  for in-depth discussion on: Globalization; Indicators of economic development: GDP, Gini coefficient, CPI, inflation, etc; Economic concepts including but are not limited to: Reaganomics, Neoliberalism, and Structural Adjustment; Individual- level, national- level, and international- level facts and policies about Haiti’s economy.

Subject Area(s): Spanish, Social Studies, Fine Arts, History
This curriculum guide highlights the role that photojournalism and/or portrait photography can play in our understandings of other places and persons.  In this case: Cuba.  Whether part of lesson plans in Spanish, English, History, or Social Studies classrooms, photographs fosters curiosity, and creates a more direct, visual connection between learners and the persons and places that they learn about. Furthermore, photographs allow educators to emphasize visual literacy, or on the constructed nature of visual images, and the components that lend to a mood or emphasis of a photograph.

They Are We: Educator Guide
Grade Levels: 9–12, College
Subject Area(s): Spanish, Social Studies, Dance, Music
This thorough guide to the documentary film They Are We discusses the African Slave Trade in Latin America and the Afro-Cuban culture and influence. Four classroom applications about Afro-Cuban Culture, cultural identity of Afro-Latinos, Afro-Cuban music and influences, and contemporary Afro-descendants in Latin America. This guide includes a list of discussion questions to accompany the film, as well as an extensive glossary and appendix of activities.
Brazilian Culture 101
Grade Levels: 9–12
Subject Area(s): Spanish, Social Studies
Presentation on Brazilian culture.  Includes basic Portuguese language and information on race, class, politics, and music in Brazil.

Oral Histories and Zora Neale Hurston Lesson Guide
Grade Levels: 5–8, 9–12
Subject Area(s): Language Arts, Social Studies
In this lesson students develop a definition of oral histories, articulate the important distinction between oral and written histories, and create their own written/oral histories.  This lesson could be used as an extension plan on a unit on Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Students Researching through Fieldwork and Fiction
Grade Levels: 9–12
Subject Area(s): Language Arts
In this lesson, students will briefly learn about Zora Neale Hurston’s work as a social scientist who studied folklore and culture in the black diaspora across the U.S. and Latin America. Students will discuss the major questions Hurston addressed in her research on the African Diaspora, and how they might have impacted her while writing Their Eyes Were Watching God during a research trip in Haiti. They will then use this framework to develop a research question about folklore, experience, and culture that they will trace through the novel. 

Lesson Plans

DOC Afro-Latin American Culture in the K-12 Spanish Classroom
PDF Brazilian Culture 101
Booklet They Are We: Educator Guide
PDF “El yerberito moderno” por Celia Cruz

CLAS Lending Library Resources

Book Afro-Latin America: 1800-2000
DVD Black in Latin America (2011)
Book Black Society in Spanish Florida
DVD Favela Rising (Brazil, 2005)
Book Fort Mose: Colonial America
Book Nina Bonita (Brazil)
DVD Race (Raza): A Cuban Documentary in Colors (2008)
Book The Atlantic Slave Trade: Second Edition
Book The History of Cuba
Book The Kingdom of This World
DVD They Are We

CLAS Workshop Presentations

DVD Questions of Memory and History in Cuba and Sierra Leone