Panama’s Darién is a name many conservationists know. Renowned for its lowland tropical forests, its fame is more pronounced because a road that should be there is not: environmentalists have repeatedly, and remarkably, blocked all attempts to connect the Americas via the Pan American Highway. That lacuna, that absence of a road, also serves to occlude history in the region as its old-growth forests give the erroneous impression of a peopleless nature.
In Crafting Wounaan Landscapes, Julie Velásquez Runk upends long-standing assumptions about the people that call Darién home, and she demonstrates the agency of the Wounaan people to make their living and preserve and transform their way of life in the face of continuous and tremendous change. Velásquez Runk focuses on Wounaan crafting—how their ability to subtly effect change has granted them resilience in a dynamic and globalized era. She theorizes that unpredictable landscapes, political decisions, and cultural beliefs are responsible for environmental conservation problems, and she unpacks environmental governance efforts that illustrate what happens when conservation is confronted with people in a purportedly peopleless place.
The everyday dangers of environmental governance without local crafting include logging, land grabbing, and loss of carbon in a new era of carbon governance in the face of climate change. Crafting Wounaan Landscapes provides recognition of local ways of knowing and being in the world that may be key to the future of conservation practice.
Emperors in the Jungle is an exposé of key episodes in the military involvement of the United States in Panama. Investigative journalism at its best, this book reveals how U.S. ideas about taming tropical jungles and people, combined with commercial and military objectives, shaped more than a century of intervention and environmental engineering in a small, strategically located nation. Whether uncovering the U.S. Army’s decades-long program of chemical weapons tests in Panama or recounting the invasion in December 1989 which was the U.S. military’s twentieth intervention in Panama since 1856, John Lindsay-Poland vividly portrays the extent and costs of U.S. involvement.
Analyzing new evidence gathered through interviews, archival research, and Freedom of Information Act requests, Lindsay-Poland discloses the hidden history of U.S.–Panama relations, including the human and environmental toll of the massive canal building project from 1904 to 1914. In stunning detail he describes secret chemical weapons tests—of toxins including nerve agent and Agent Orange—as well as plans developed in the 1960s to use nuclear blasts to create a second canal in Panama.
He chronicles sustained efforts by Panamanians and international environmental groups to hold the United States responsible for the disposal of the tens of thousands of explosives it left undetonated on the land it turned over to Panama in 1999. In the context of a relationship increasingly driven by the U.S. antidrug campaigns, Lindsay-Poland reports on the myriad issues that surrounded Panama’s takeover of the canal in accordance with the 1977 Panama Canal Treaty, and he assesses the future prospects for the Panamanian people, land, and canal area. Bringing to light historical legacies unknown to most U.S. citizens or even to many Panamanians, Emperors in the Jungle is a major contribution toward a new, more open relationship between Panama and the United States.
Cutting a path from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Panama Canal set a new course for the development of Central America—but at considerable cost to Panamanians. Sleuth and scholar Marixa Lasso recounts how the canal’s American builders displaced 40,000 residents and erased entire towns in the guise of bringing modernity to the tropics.
A new reading of Panama’s nation-building process, interpreted through a lens of transnational tourism
Based on long-term ethnographic and archival research, From Temporary Migrants to Permanent Attractions: Tourism, Cultural Heritage, and Afro-Antillean Identities in Panama considers the intersection of tourism, multiculturalism, and nation building. Carla Guerrón Montero analyzes the ways in which tourism becomes a vehicle for the development of specific kinds of institutional multiculturalism and nation-building projects in a country that prides itself on being multiethnic and racially democratic.
The narrative centers on Panamanian Afro-Antilleans who arrived in Panama in the nineteenth century from the Greater and Leeward Antilles as a labor force for infrastructural projects and settled in Panama City, Colón, and the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. The volume discusses how Afro-Antilleans, particularly in Bocas del Toro, have struggled since their arrival to become part of Panama’s narrative of nationhood and traces their evolution from plantation workers for the United Fruit Company to tourism workers. Guerrón Montero notes that in the current climate of official tolerance, they have seized the moment to improve their status within Panamanian society, while also continuing to identify with their Caribbean heritage in ways that conflict with their national identity.
In recent years, sustainable development has emerged as a central goal of the World Bank and grassroots activists alike. In Grassroots Struggles for Sustainability in Central America, Lynn R. Horton explores the implications of this new, often contested discourse and related policies for Central America's rural and indigenous poor. Drawing on the testimony of leaders and residents of three communities in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, Horton explores grassroots assumptions, values, and practices of sustainable development and, in particular, the ways in which they overlap with or challenge international financial institutions' discourse of sustainability.
With a comparative, empirical approach, Horton also analyzes dominant practices linked to sustainable development - neoliberal reforms, project interventions, and environmental protection. She reveals how these practices support or undermine economic, cultural, and political opportunities for the rural and indigenous poor and impact these communities' advancement of their own visions of sustainability. Finally, the author explores processes of empowerment that enable communities to articulate and put into practice local visions of sustainability, which contribute toward broader social and structural transformations.
Grassroots Struggles for Sustainability in Central America will interest sociologists, anthropologists, and others who study the theory and practice of sustainable development.
Heart of Palms is a clear-eyed memoir of Peace Corps service in the rural Panamanian village of Tranquilla through the eyes of a young American woman trained as a community forester.
In the storied fifty-year history of the US Peace Corps, Heart of Palms is the first Peace Corps memoir set in Panama, the slender isthmus that connects two continents and two oceans. In her memoir, Meredith Cornett transports readers to the remote village of Tranquilla, where dugout canoes are the mainstay of daily transportation, life and nature are permeated by witchcraft, and a restful night’s sleep may be disturbed by a raiding phalanx of army ants.
Cornett is sent to help counter the rapid deforestation that is destroying the ecosystem and livelihoods of the Panama Canal watershed region. Her first chapters chronicle her arrival and struggles not only with the social issues of language, loneliness, and insecurity, but also with the tragicomic basics of mastering open-fire cookery and intrusions by insects and poisonous snakes. As she grows to understand the region and its people, her keen eye discerns the overwhelming scope of her task. Unable to plant trees faster than they are lost, she writes with moving clarity about her sense of powerlessness.
Combating deforestation leads Cornett into an equally fierce battle against her own feelings of fear and isolation. Her journey to Panama becomes a parallel journey into herself. In this way, Heart of Palms is much more than a record of her Peace Corps service; it is also a moving environmental coming-of-age story and nuanced meditation on one village’s relationship to nature. When she returns home two years later, Cornett brings with her both skills and experience and a remarkable, newfound sense of confidence and mission.
Writing with rueful, self-deprecating humor, Cornett lets us ride along with her on a wave of naïve optimism, a wave that breaks not only on fear and intimidation, but also on tedium and isolation. Heart of Palms offers a bracing alternative to the romantic idealism common to Peace Corps memoirs and will be valued as a welcome addition to writing about the Peace Corps and environmental service.
In recent decades, growing numbers of researchers have been drawn to the rich and highly threatened biotic diversity of the Neotropics, where mammals are among the most difficult animals to observe and study in detail. Mammals of the Neotropics fills the need for a comprehensive, up-to-date survey of existing knowledge of the area's wild mammals, both terrestrial and marine. This first of three planned volumes covers the northern Neotropics, including southern Central America.
John Eisenberg, a leading researcher of Neotropical fauna, begins the volume with a discussion of historical biogeography and contemporary habitats of the northern Neotropics. Each of the chapters that follow presents a mammalian order, with data for all indigenous species. Eisenberg has provided physical descriptions and summaries of range and habitat for nearly 450 species. For those species that have been studied in the field or in captivity, additional notes on natural history are included. For the larger taxa, field keys to help to identify the specimens. Range maps, line drawings, and color plates supplement the text, further aiding identification.
Throughout the book, Eisenberg provides a larger context for the species descriptions. He comments on the diversity of forms within each order, places the Neotropical species in a worldwide geographical perspective, and reviews taxonomic questions and controversies. At the end of each chapter, an extensive bibliography directs readers to related articles on systematics, behavior, ecology, and evolution. Eisenberg concludes with chapters on speciation events and mammalian community ecology.
No comparable account of South and Central American mammals has ever been published in any language. This volume of Mammals of the Neotropics and the forthcoming companion volumes will be an invaluable reference for students and professionals and will help further the research that is so vital to conservation efforts.
Mammals of the Neotropics satisfies the need for a comprehensive, up-to-date survey of existing knowledge of South America's terrestrial and marine mammals. No comparable account of South American mammals has ever been published in any language, and this timely work will help encourage the research vital to conservation efforts.
This second of a projected three volumes covers southern South America. The authors discuss the historical biogeography and contemporary habitats of the region and then
provide individual accounts for nearly 360 indigenous species, including information on size, appearance, ecology, behavior, and life history. Range maps, line drawings, and color plates supplement the text. To place the species accounts in a broader context, the authors consider the diversity of animals within each taxonomic group, examine the Neotropical species from a worldwide geographical perspective, and review taxonomic questions and
controversies. Two final chapters deal with the community ecology of mammals and the effects humans have had on the mammalian fauna of the southern cone.
Despite intense interest in this biologically diverse and ecologically important region, the mammals of South America are still not well known. Filling a large gap in the literature, this volume provides a survey and synthesis of current knowledge of the more than 650 species of land and marine mammals found in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.
Third in a series that reviewers have described as "state of the art" (Journal of Biogeography) and "invaluable to anyone interested in the mammalian fauna of the Neotropics" (Quarterly Review of Biology), this volume follows the format of its acclaimed predecessors. Chapters present not only up-to-date taxonomic information but also ecological and behavioral characteristics, conservation status, and distribution maps for most species. Numerous illustrations are provided to assist in field and laboratory identification, including exquisite color and black-and-white plates by Fiona Reid. New to this volume are chapters contributed by experts on the mammalian fossil record of this region and on its current biodiversity and biogeography. An appendix summarizes changes to the nomenclature that have altered the scientific names used in the first two volumes.
Volumes 1 and 2 of Mammals of the Neotropics, which are also available, describe the mammals of Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana (volume 1) and Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay (volume 2). The fourth and final volume of this series will cover the mammals of Mexico and Central America.
Mobility and Modernity: Panama in the Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Imagination rewrites the history of the Panama Canal, assessing for the first time the literary culture of the preceding decades. In this period, U.S. and British writers and visual artists developed sophisticated languages of mobility, time, and speed to cast the isthmus as an in-between place, a point of connection to more important destinations. These discourses served an important role in their own day and laid the imaginative ground for the canal to come.
In this study, Robert D. Aguirre provides bold new interpretations of Anthony Trollope, John Lloyd Stephens, and Eadweard Muybridge and also recovers information about literary communities previously lost to history. Mobility and Modernity shows how Panama became defined as a site of incipient globalization and a crucial link of empire. Across this narrow strip of land people and things traveled, technology developed, and political forces erupted. The isthmus became a site of mobility that paradoxically produced varieties of immobility. Parting ways with histories that celebrate the canal as a mighty engineering feat, Mobility and Modernity reveals a more complex story of cultural conflict that began with the first gold rush news in the late 1840s and continued throughout the century.
Carlos Guevara Mann argues that Panamanian militarism, a consequence of the breakdown of legitimacy that occurred in the early nineteenth century, is more a manifestation of a deeply-rooted political tradition than an isolated phenomenon of the late twentieth century. He examines the variable US policy approach to domestic stability with the overall context of US hegemony in the isthmus and its shaping of Panamanian militarism.
Focusing on the causes that generated nineteenth-century predatory militarism, including political illegitimacy and US support, Guevara Mann analyzes the so-called professionalization of the armed forces — institutionalized militarism — and the polices developed by the 1968-89 military regime.
The author cautions that although Panamanian Defense Forces were abolished after the US invasion of December 1989, and although the state’s security apparatus has been placed under civilian direction, Panama’s stability remains threatened. Lack of legitimacy — the characteristic which informs military involvement in politics — still persists, and militarism could well reappear if the Panamanian polity fails to achieve legitimacy.
Realizing the century-old dream of a passage to India, the building of the Panama Canal was an engineering feat of colossal dimensions, a construction site filled not only with mud and water but with interpretations, meanings, and social visions. Alexander Missal’s Seaway to the Future unfolds a cultural history of the Panama Canal project, revealed in the texts and images of the era’s policymakers and commentators. Observing its creation, journalists, travel writers, and officials interpreted the Canal and its environs as a perfect society under an efficient, authoritarian management featuring innovations in technology, work, health, and consumption. For their middle-class audience in the United States, the writers depicted a foreign yet familiar place, a showcase for the future—images reinforced in the exhibits of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition that celebrated the Canal’s completion. Through these depictions, the building of the Panama Canal became a powerful symbol in a broader search for order as Americans looked to the modern age with both anxiety and anticipation.
Like most utopian visions, this one aspired to perfection at the price of exclusion. Overlooking the West Indian laborers who built the Canal, its admirers praised the white elite that supervised and administered it. Inspired by the masculine ideal personified by President Theodore Roosevelt, writers depicted the Canal Zone as an emphatically male enterprise and Chief Engineer George W. Goethals as the emblem of a new type of social leader, the engineer-soldier, the benevolent despot. Examining these and other images of the Panama Canal project, Seaway to the Future shows how they reflected popular attitudes toward an evolving modern world and, no less important, helped shape those perceptions.
Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association
“Provide[s] a useful vantage on the world bequeathed to us by the forces that set out to put America astride the globe nearly a century ago.”—Chris Rasmussen, Bookforum
Sovereign Acts explores how artists, activists, and audiences performed and interpreted sovereignty struggles in the Panama Canal Zone, from the Canal Zone’s inception in 1903 to its dissolution in 1999. In popular entertainments and patriotic pageants, opera concerts and national theatre, white U.S. citizens, West Indian laborers, and Panamanian artists and activists used performance as a way to assert their right to the Canal Zone and challenge the Zone’s sovereignty, laying claim to the Zone’s physical space and imagined terrain.
By demonstrating the place of performance in the U.S. Empire’s legal landscape, Katherine A. Zien transforms our understanding of U.S. imperialism and its aftermath in the Panama Canal Zone and the larger U.S.-Caribbean world.
Despite its long history of encounters with colonialism, slavery, and neocolonialism, Panama continues to be an under-researched site of African Diaspora identity, culture, and performance. To address this void, Renée Alexander Craft examines an Afro-Latin Carnival performance tradition called “Congo” as it is enacted in the town of Portobelo, Panama—the nexus of trade in the Spanish colonial world. In When the Devil Knocks: The Congo Tradition and the Politics of Blackness in Twentieth-Century Panama, Alexander Craft draws on over a decade of critical ethnographic research to argue that Congo traditions tell the story of cimarronaje, charting self-liberated Africans’ triumph over enslavement, their parody of the Spanish Crown and Catholic Church, their central values of communalism and self-determination, and their hard-won victories toward national inclusion and belonging. When the Devil Knocks analyzes the Congo tradition as a dynamic cultural, ritual, and identity performance that tells an important story about a Black cultural past while continuing to create itself in a Black cultural present. This book examines “Congo” within the history of twentieth century Panamanian etnia negra culture, politics, and representation, including its circulation within the political economy of contemporary tourism.
Alan L. MCPHERSON Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress F1418.M373 2003 | Dewey Decimal 327.7308
In 1958, angry Venezuelans attacked Vice President Richard Nixon in Caracas, opening a turbulent decade in Latin American-U.S. relations. In Yankee No! Alan McPherson sheds much-needed light on the controversial and pressing problem of anti-U.S. sentiment in the world.
Examining the roots of anti-Americanism in Latin America, McPherson focuses on three major crises: the Cuban Revolution, the 1964 Panama riots, and U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic. Deftly combining cultural and political analysis, he demonstrates the shifting and complex nature of anti-Americanism in each country and the love-hate ambivalence of most Latin Americans toward the United States. When rising panic over "Yankee hating" led Washington to try to contain foreign hostility, the government displayed a surprisingly coherent and consistent response, maintaining an ideological self-confidence that has outlasted a Latin American diplomacy torn between resentment and admiration of the United States.
However, McPherson warns, U.S. leaders run a great risk if they continue to ignore the deeper causes of anti-Americanism. Written with dramatic flair, Yankee No! is a timely, compelling, and carefully researched contribution to international history.
Table of Contents:
Introduction Anti-Americanism as Historical Problem
1. The Road to Caracas Or, Richard Nixon Must Get Stoned 2. Cuba, 1959 Revolutionary Anti-Americanism and U.S. Panic 3. Panama, 1964 Conservative Anti-Americanism and U.S. Pragmatism 4. Dominican Republic, 1965 Episodic Anti-Americanism and U.S. Containment
Epilogue Toward Global Anti-Americanism
Abbreviations Notes Selected Sources Acknowledgments Index
Reviews of this book: McPherson examines the years from 1958 to 1966, when anti-Americanism was a prominent theme in inter-American diplomacy, to deliver a helpful reminder that anti-Americanism is not a new phenomenon nor a product only of the Middle East--and that it has been confronted quite effectively in the past, at least when its sources were sought out and taken seriously. He provides several vivid case studies, starting with the attacks on Vice President Richard Nixon in Caracas and continuing on to Cuba, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. Together, these examples show the variability and ambivalence of anti-Americanism; they also emphasize the importance of U.S. policies that respond to its challenges rather than dismissing it as a cynical invention of alienated elites...This well-written and balanced book should be required reading in the White House, in Langley, and around Foggy Bottom. --Foreign Affairs
Alan McPherson has not only made a valuable contribution to the literature on U.S.-Latin American relations but, more importantly, he has provided a superb analysis of anti-Americanism by identifying its variability, its ambivalence, and the U.S. resilience in confronting the challenge during the critical years framed in this book. In his sophistication and in his writing he demonstrates all the attributes of a seasoned historian. --Lester D. Langley, author of The Americas in the Modern Age
McPherson expertly extends the field of U.S. foreign relations into social and cultural history. In his analysis of U.S. relations with Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Panama, he deftly avoids the trap of writing international history solely with the 'view from Washington' perspective. I unequivocally recommend it. --Stephen Rabe, author of Eisenhower and Latin America
This timely, deeply researched, analytically rigorous, and handsomely written study probes the many anti-Americanisms that have bedeviled U.S. relations with Latin America. Why do they hate us?' is an urgent question today. McPherson impressively demonstrates that it has profound historical roots that can inform caring policymakers eager to prevent global violence. --Thomas G. Paterson, author of Contesting Castro
McPherson opens a revealing window on the heretofore elusive phenomenon of anti-Americanism. In so doing he takes his place in the front ranks of younger scholars writing about U.S. foreign relations. --William Walker, Florida International University