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Beyond the Big DitchPolitics, Ecology, and Infrastructure at the Panama Canal$
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Ashley Carse

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028110

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028110.001.0001

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The Machete and the Freighter

1 (p.1) Introduction
Beyond the Big Ditch

Ashley Carse

The MIT Press

The book’s introductory chapter develops an analyticalframework forunderstanding the Panama Canal and infrastructures generally byforegroundingtheir political, ecological, and anthropological dimensions. It develops four linkedarguments. First, infrastructure is not hardware, but an ongoing process of relationship building. Second, infrastructures encircle the planet, facilitating global connection but also producing disconnection. Third, infrastructures shape and are shaped by the environments that they cross. Fourth, environmental conflicts may emerge at the intersection of competing infrastructures that organize landscapes to “serve” different purposes, economies, or scales or organization. Reconceptualizing the Panama Canalin this way—as an infrastructure that has become part of the regional landscape and everyday life—provides insights about politics and the environmentaround the famous waterway and alsoinverts commonunderstandings ofglobal-local relations.

Keywords:   anthropology, connection and disconnection, development, environmental conflict, global-local relations, globalization, infrastructure, scale, shipping, transportation and shipping

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