Study abroad in Edinburgh

Course finder

Semester 1

Carnival in the Atlantic World: Play, Power and Politics (HIST10479)







Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Visiting students must have completed at least 3 History courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum academic entry requirements does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that 3rd year History courses have extremely limited spaces available, and are very popular, so students cannot be guaranteed a space in any 3rd year History course.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the History department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

The social and cultural history of the development of Carnival celebrations in the Atlantic World reflects the 'violent formation of the African Diaspora' (Carby, 2019). In this course we will explore Carnival in historical context and across multiple sites in the Atlantic world, from colonial Trinidad in the 1880s to London in the 1970s. Using Carnival as a lens, we will examine key themes and concepts in Black History: gender, race and class; creolisation in music and culture and urban space as a cultural battle ground.

Course Description

To begin we will consider what Carnival in the Americas is: its origins in Europe and Africa; then move on to consider Carnival as a site of play, satirical subversion, power and political contestation. Through an exploration of Carnival in late nineteenth-century Port-of-Spain (Trinidad), Salvador (Brazil) and Rio (Brazil) we will consider how the formerly enslaved entered and shaped Carnival, through satirical masquerade, dance and music, even from their subaltern position. We will then move to New Orleans Mardi Gras to consider a very different case study, in which Carnival became a site of 'violent ridicule' from which to articulate and perform white supremacy in the city (Roach, 1996). We will examine attempts to 'clean-up Carnival' under bourgeois stewardship in Trinidad on the cusp of independence from the British Empire. We will examine the Caribbean influence on 1930s Harlem, and later Brooklyn with the transplantation of Caribbean Carnival to New York City. Finally, we will examine the formation of Caribbean Carnival in post-war (post-)imperial London, first at St Pancras and later at Notting Hill.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 80%, Practical Exam 20%

view the timetable and further details for this course


All course information obtained from this visiting student course finder should be regarded as provisional. We cannot guarantee that places will be available for any particular course. For more information, please see the visiting student disclaimer:

Visiting student disclaimer