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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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2 (p.27) Monte
Beyond the Big Ditch

Ashley Carse

The MIT Press

This chapter, set in a rural community called Boquerónnear the Panama Canal, introduces two competing ways of conceptualizing and managing rural landscapesin Panama’s transit zone: farm and forest. It focuses on the dualmeaning and materialityofa class of vegetative land cover that rural Panamanians call monte. Canal authorities managemonte as watershed forest necessary to optimizethe fresh water supply availablefor shipping through the canal. By contrast, rural people conceptualize monte asan integratedpart of theircyclical swidden agricultural system. Through ethnographic attention to monte , the chapter shows how the canalis entangled with cultural landscapes worked by groupswho conceptualize and manage the environment in different ways.

Keywords:   cultural landscape, environmental management, land cover, materiality, meaning, monte, Panama Canal, secondary forest, shipping, swidden agriculture

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