Main content

Diana Cassells

As an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, Diana Cassells specializes in international relations, and comparative politics with a specific focus on the international relations of the Global South.

 She is presently engaged with research projects on the impact of the legacy of colonialism on global public health systems, Cuban foreign policy, and decolonizing international relations methodologies and epistemologies.


Cassells’ project, Ginen and the Politics of Caribbean Citizenship,  explores the complexities of African-derived religio-cultural practices and their impact on Caribbean politics. It interrogates the roots of the Haitian vodun concept of Ginen, the return to the source. The centrality of return to Africa in Afro-Caribbean religiosity is undergirded by an embedded “Africaness” that informs black identity formation processes for adherents’ and invites contestation about rights of citizenship from detractors. She proposes to develop a course that explores state legitimation and de-legitimation of African-derived religiosity in the Caribbean. Benin, the home of Vodun and a prominent point of (dis)location in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, is a unique space from which to interrogate Caribbean-wide yearning for Ginen. Conducting research in Benin enriches the curriculum development process as it allows for the exposition of ideas, diasporic reflection on the notion of belonging in an African sense, and exploration of ways to bridge the knowledge gap that African-descendant citizens of the Caribbean region must confront as they navigate post-colonial nation-building processes. Students who take this course would be able to assess the sociocultural conundrum that shapes Caribbean politics and evaluate the enduring salience of Africa in Caribbean state-society relations.