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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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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Conquest of the Jungle

The Conquest of the Jungle

11 (p.185) The Conquest of the Jungle
Beyond the Big Ditch

Ashley Carse

The MIT Press

This chapter focuses on the settlement and development ofBoquerón,a rural community in the headwaters of the Panama Canal. Boquerón’shistory is narrated through the story of the always-unfinished roadlinking itto thenearest highway. The road has intermittentlybeen improved and decayed, advancing and retreating over time as capitalists, entrepreneurs, and state officials have channeled more resources into the region or diverted them elsewhere. Like all infrastructures, then, the road never “arrived” once and for all, because investment fluctuated along with shifts in political administrations, agrarian reform policies, or commodity markets.Therefore, rural people talk about “bad roads” to characterize more than a general state of poverty. Because road conditions aremultiscale sociopolitical relations materialized upon the local landscape, community members analyze those conditions to make sense oftheir changing relationships withother groups and access to valuable resourcesacross space and time.

Keywords:   agrarian reform, development, infrastructure, landscape, maintenance, materiality, poverty, resource access, road conditions, rural settlement

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