Amy Jordan

Associate Professor of African American History
Hampshire College Professor Amy Jordan
Contact Amy

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Amy Jordan
Franklin Patterson Hall 201

Amy Jordan, associate professor of African American history, received her doctorate in history from the University of Michigan in 2003.

Amy has conducted oral histories with welfare rights activists and small farmers in Mississippi, and has conducted workshops on the history of anti-poverty and welfare rights activism. Her essay, "Fighting for the Child Development Group of Mississippi: Poor People, Local Politics and the Complicated Legacy of Head Start," is part of a forthcoming collection entitled War on Poverty & Struggles for Racial and Economic Justice. She is currently working on a book entitled From Rural Rehabilitation to Welfare Rights: Rural Relief, Land Ownership and Welfare Rights Activism in Mississippi.

Amy also studies West African dance and performs occasionally with the New Haven-based companies Kouffin Kanecke Dance Company and the Fotoba Dance Troupe.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • In this course, we will examine a range of organizing struggles that took place during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. By reading scholarly articles and activist interviews, we will explore critical debates and questions raised by researchers and movement veterans. What role do journalist, activists, and scholars play in shaping how we remember the past? How do African-American communities give meaning to the "Movement." Do we understand the "movement" in terms of understanding the leaders, determining the nature of the political climate, or by examining community traditions? When do we begin our exploration---in the 1950s, 1960s or perhaps sooner? Does the emergence of newly independent nations in Africa and Asia shape activist conceptions of civil rights, human rights, violence, nonviolence, citizenship or nation building? How do the discourses and struggles of the 1960s animate our understanding of social change today? This course will teach foundational Africana Studies and historical methods, including strategies for finding and interpreting primary sources and radical newspapers Keywords:African American History, Africana Studies, social movement studies, radical newspapers The content of this course deals with issues of race and power.

  • Struggles for equity in education have always been central to African-American strategies for advancement. African-American ideas about how to make educational equity a reality, however, have varied greatly over time. This course seeks to examine how various issues in African-American education have evolved throughout the twentieth Century. The class will begin with the dynamic struggle of Boston's African American community to desegregate public education during the pre-civil war decade. We will cover other critical campaigns in the Reconstruction, Jim Crow and Civil Rights/Black Power eras. Students will engage with primary documents throughout the semester, travel to the W.E.B Dubois Archives at UMASS, and develop their own independent research projects. Keywords:African American History, Education Studies, Africana Studies, History The content of this course deals with issues of race and power.

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  • African American dance and music traditions have played a critical role in how African-Americans chose to convey and sustain their humanity and express joy and pain corporeally and through a particular relationship to rhythm. This class will explore the forms, contents and contexts of black dance traditions that played a crucial role in shaping American dance; focusing on how expressive cultural forms from the African diaspora have been transferred from the religious and social spaces to the concert stage. Viewing American cultural history through the lens of movement and performance, we will begin with an exploration of social and spiritual dances during slavery and the late nineteenth century when vibrant social dances insisted that black bodies, generally relegated to long hours of strenuous labor, devote themselves to pleasure as well. We will also explore the creation of protest choreographies among popular music artists, social dance contexts and modern dance idioms. This course will provide a strong foundation for students who want to pursue Africana Studies , cultural or social movement history or pursue transdisciplinary arts based research or performance studies. KEYWORDS:Africana Studies, dance history, performance studies, African American history

  • This interdisciplinary course critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, sociological, literary, cultural) to study the complex and contested reality of Cuba. The course will begin by critiquing and decentering the stereotypical images of Cuba that circulate in U.S. popular and official culture. The first part of the course will focus on revolutions that have defined the nation in the context of colonialism and neocolonialism: the impact of the Haitian Revolution on colonial Cuba; the forging of cubanidad in the late-19thcentury revolutions for independence from Spain; and the victory of the 1959 Cuban Revolution that defied U.S. neocolonial power. From there, we will examine how intersecting constructions of race, gender, and sexuality have defined the Cuban after the 1959 revolution, during the Special Period, and more recently. We will also explore how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S. government, to the international Left, and to its diaspora. This course is open to all, though it is best suited to students beyond their first semester of study. The class will be conducted in English, with many readings available in Spanish and English. Additionally, for students wishing to apply for the Hampshire in Havana spring semester program, this course will offer critical foundational knowledge and application support. (Concurrent enrollment in a Spanish language class is strongly recommended for non-fluent speakers considering the Hampshire in Havana program.) KEYWORDS:Caribbean, Latin America, diaspora, history, culture, colonialism

  • In April of 2022, Christian Smalls led a group of Amazon workers in a successful campaign to win union recognition. This historic union battle represents the enormous challenges facing "essential workers" and the creative strategies workers deploy to build power in their workplaces. This course will examine the lived experiences, work cultures and organizing strategies of African American workers whose stories provide critical glimpses into the history of essential workers. Readings, films, interviews and historical newspaper sources will allow us to explore a range of sites, both rural and urban, as well as a range of categories, including workers in private households, steel, tobacco, automobile factories, and cotton and rice fields. This range of labor struggles will provide an understanding of what has been at stake for African American workers from Reconstruction through much of the late 20th century. By extending our exploration over the course of the twentieth century, we can examine organizing traditions in depth and consider their long-term impact on African-American political activism and contemporary labor struggles. Keywords:African American history, labor history, social movements

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  • This course will combine West African dance classes with discussion-based classes on the cultural and social history of Guinea. Students will explore West African aesthetics as represented in the music and dance traditions of Guinea by dancing to traditional rhythms, watching films of performances and celebrations, and reading recent scholarship on the role that national dance companies, such as Les Ballets Africains, played in the anti-colonial, revolutionary nationalist politics of Guinea. The literature will include broader social histories of West African struggle for independence as well as cultural analysis of recurring themes such as debates about authenticity and processes of modernity. We will discuss the ways in which dance figured into the forging of national identities during the Independence era and consider how these projects in self-making evolved over time as the challenges of the post-colonial era constrained and informed the possibilities for such a project. Students will complete an interdisciplinary final project. This course will prepare students to pursue concentrations that explore the intersection of artistic modes of expression, history and ethnography. Keywords: West African History, dance, post colonial theory, ethnography