Trinity College Launches New Center for Caribbean Studies

Professor Leslie Desmangles Discusses the Caribbean on WNPR Program

Hartford, Connecticut, December 14, 2016 – Trinity College recently celebrated the launch of its new Center for Caribbean Studies. On hand were (pictured, left to right) Tim Cresswell, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs and professor of American studies; Heather Cateau of The University of the West Indies faculty of humanities and education; and Leslie Desmangles, Trinity professor of religious studies and international studies and the inaugural director of the new center, which embraces the Caribbean as an area for scholarly inquiry and builds on Trinity’s nearly two-decade-old study-away program in Trinidad. The center also focuses on the Caribbean character of the College’s home city of Hartford, which, outside of New York, has one of the largest Caribbean populations in the country. Plans for the center include an emphasis on undergraduate research and internships, as well as student-faculty scholarly projects within the liberal arts environment.

Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney said that Trinity is the ideal home for the Center for Caribbean Studies for three reasons. First, because the College has faculty members who are “true Caribbean specialists – faculty members who do not just happen to teach a course related to the Caribbean, but who have deep roots and knowledge in the culture, music, history, politics, and literature of the Caribbean.” Second, due to Trinity’s special and unique relationship with the University of the West Indies (UWI) at St. Augustine in Trinidad. And third, because Hartford is a city with very strong Caribbean roots, home to large Jamaican and Puerto Rican diaspora communities, among others.

​Leslie Desmangles, Trinity professor of religious studies and international studies and director of the Center for Caribbean Studies, and Priscilla Melendez, adjunct professor of language and culture studies and associate director of the Center for Caribbean Studies. Photos by John Marinelli
The November 10 celebration of the new center coincided with the opening reception for an exhibit of Haitian art, “Selections from the Edith A. Graham Collection of Haitian Art at Trinity College,” as well as Caribbean manuscripts from Trinity’s Watkinson Library’s Caribbean archival collection. The center’s official opening also ushered in the annual conference of the New England Council of Latin American Studies (NECLAS), which took place at Trinity on Saturday, November 12. The all-day conference, co-hosted by Trinity and the University of Connecticut, gathered experts, scholars, students, and community representatives from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds to discuss their work. NECLAS members, of which there are more than 500 from 49 educational institutions, were well-represented at the conference. Events culminated in a participatory workshop led by Eric Galm, chair of Trinity’s Music Department and associate professor of music, and the Trinity Samba Ensemble.

Desmangles was a guest on the WNPR's “Where We Live” on December 15 as part of a program discussing the Caribbean and Caribbean culture in Connecticut. Listen to a podcast of the program here.

For more information on Trinity’s Center for Caribbean Studies, please click here.

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Photos by John Marinelli. To view the Flickr album of photos from which this slide show was generated, please click here.