Amy Jordan

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

Mail Code CSI
Amy Jordan
Franklin Patterson Hall 201
413.559.5644

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

  • This interdisciplinary course critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, literary) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. We will critique and decenter the stereotypical images of Cuba that circulate in US popular and official culture, and we will examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We will also explore how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S., to its diaspora in Miami, and elsewhere. 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. Papers may be submitted in either language. This interdisciplinary course critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, literary) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. We will critique and decenter the stereotypical images of Cuba that circulate in US popular and official culture, and we will examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We will also explore how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S., to its diaspora in Miami, and elsewhere. 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. Papers may be submitted in either language. For students wishing to apply for the Hampshire in Havana January term program, this required course will offer critical foundational knowledge. For students wishing to apply for the Hampshire in Havana January term program, this required course will offer critical foundational knowledge.

  • 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

  • In this course, we will explore the histories of organizing to dismantle the racist underpinnings of colleges and universities in the U.S. Drawing on a range of resources, students will explore the challenges of documenting institutional racism in Higher Education by exploring social contestation on several selected campuses, including Hampshire College. We will pay particular attention to the range of demands, agreements, and anti-racist plans developed as a result of campus activism. Key components of our examination include: utilizing an intersectional lens, exploring how race intersects with gender and sexual identities, as well as strategies for building multi-racial solidarities. Students will learn to utilize a range of historical and social science methodologies. The aim is to produce a group project that accesses Hampshire Colleges current Anti-Racist Inventory/Plan and makes suggestions for future institutional actions. Keywords: history, ethnography, race, ethnicity, diversity

  • In 1968, while striking for union recognition and decent wages, Memphis Sanitation workers wore placards with the iconic words printed on them, "I am a Man." The simple phrase invokes the long struggle that African American workers fought for visibility, recognition and respect as citizens whose labor struggles constitute a critical component of the "Long Civil Rights Movement." By examining historical literature, films, interviews and historical newspapers, we will immerse ourselves in the lived experiences, work cultures and organizing strategies of African American workers. We will explore a range of sites, both rural and urban, as well as a range of labor categories, including workers in private households, steel, tobacco, automobile factories, and service industries. This range of labor struggles will provide a critical glimpse into what has been at stake for African American workers from the Reconstruction period through much of the late 20th century. The latter part of the course will examine the transition from manufacturing to service industries and consider how a historical lens can help make sense of the current activism of "essential workers." Key words: Africana studies, African American history, labor history, social movement history