Projects and Courses

A Connected Classrooms Project: Transoceanic Experiences of Indenture

Dr. Anita Baksh (LaGuardia Community College) and Dr. Laëtitia Saint-Loubert (Université de la Réunion)

Students will study experiences of indentured labor in twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature from a transoceanic perspective and work together with an international partner to analyze, interpret and produce a translation of a literary text related to Indian indentureship writing.

Project Goals

  • For five weeks, students will develop projects with international partners using a variety of digital tools and platforms as part of a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) model.
  • Focuses on narratives of indenture in Indo-Caribbean, Indo-Mauritian and Indo-Reuinionese writing.
  • Each week, students will learn key terms and themes related to experiences of indenture such as working conditions, inter-ethnic relationships, gendered experiences, languages, and Indian culinary and cultural traditions.
  • Students will be exposed to French and English languages through project literature as well as introduced words and expressions from various Creoles, Hindi, and Bhojpuri.

Outcomes & Deliverables

The project encourages digital engagement between institutions with various linguistic backgrounds to learn about indentured labor from a transoceanic perspective and further decolonize curricula. Students will submit final translation projects and a reflection.


Project Lesson Plan

Schedule with descriptions of assignments and suggested bibliography (Shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.)

“Coolies: How Britain Re-invented Slavery”

A video that helps introduce key themes in the project’s first week.

Institute Reflection

Laëtitia’s perspective on the institute experience.

Blog Posts Reflection

Reflection: Laëtitia Saint-Loubert

Dr. Laëtitia Saint-Loubert (Université de la Reunión) shares her experience in learning how to better connect with her work in the Caribbean (even when not physically there) through the use of digital humanities.

Prior to the NEH Caribbean Studies and Digital Humanities Institute, I had very little digital knowledge. Attending the in-person session and doing the preliminary reading was extremely helpful in getting acquainted with the Digital Humanities and getting a sense of how it could be useful in relation to Caribbean Studies. During the Institute, learning about actual DH projects and doing hands-on activities further gave me a sense of what tools and platforms I could use in my own classes.

Connecting with fellow Caribbeanists transoceanically was one of my main motivations to attend the Institute. As I had been based at the Université de La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, for two years, I felt very far away from the Caribbean, and really needed to reconnect with the region and form some new bonds with its scientific community. The Institute certainly helped me achieve that. In particular, I was very happy to work with fellow participant Anita Baksh on a connected classrooms project which we hope to implement in the next academic year. 

Reflecting back on the Institute also makes me think about the future. As we discussed the themes of “Mobility, Migration and Sustainability” together at the University of Florida and later on during the virtual sessions that were offered to us, I came to realize how most of the projects and digital tools that were presented during the Institute were both culture-bound and context-specific. Most of the digital platforms and tools were completely new to me and are hardly ever used in the French higher education system, where more interdisciplinary and cross-departmental bridges, particularly with IT teams and librarians, still need to be built. I particularly enjoyed the pan-Caribbean approach that was adopted for the Institute, although I noted that some areas, languages and communities were underrepresented in the presentations and discussions (I am thinking of the continental Caribbean and the Guyanas, for example, or parts of the Antilles). I also wish we had had more time to address the issue of sustainability and how the use of digital tools and repositories affects the environment. Similarly, I wonder whether we could prolong the discussion on the issues of uneven access and digital divides, particularly, although not exclusively from a Caribbean perspective. Surely, these are only a few of the many points that can keep the discussion going and help us continue to grow as a diverse community of international researchers. Thinking ahead, I would gladly contribute to future projects and continue to work together with colleagues at the intersection of Caribbean Studies and the Digital Humanities, as I feel there is still so much to learn, share and do.

Thank you all for this beautiful human adventure and for all the time and hard work you have dedicated to the Institute!