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.
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