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Expanded Course Description
Piracy has been part of human commerce probably as long as humans have traversed the seas for trade. This course examines the social, political, and economic aspects of piracy in human history with a special emphasis on the Americas. We ask such questions as: What was the structure of democracy on a pirate ship? What about women? What is the difference between a pirate and a privateer? What is pirate code and did it ever exist? What was daily life like for pirates? Who became pirates and who didn't? What role has contemporary popular culture played in the depiction of pirates and their enduring appeal?
This course outlines basic concepts in the study of piracy in the social sciences with a cross-cultural emphasis. In the process it invokes key debates in the social sciences such as cultural imperialism, economic inequality, and concepts of globalization and culture. Pirates and piracy offer a unique lens through which to view the impact of large scale economies and cultures on small scale societies.
This course deals primarily with piracy in the Americas, including the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America however there is also a segment devoted to piracy in Asia. It draws upon materials from Africa and Europe as well in order to demonstrate how economic and cultural ties to the Old World were instrumental in the development of New World societies.