Beyond the Big Ditch: Politics, Ecology, and Infrastructure by Ashley Carse

By Ashley Carse

In this cutting edge ebook, Ashley Carse lines the water that flows into and out from the Panama Canal to provide an explanation for how international transport is entangled with Panama's cultural and actual landscapes. through following box ships as they trip downstream alongside maritime routes and tracing rivers upstream around the populated watershed that feeds the canal, he explores the politics of environmental administration round a waterway that hyperlinks far off ports and markets to within reach farms, forests, towns, and rural groups.

Carse attracts on quite a lot of ethnographic and archival fabric to teach the social and ecological implications of transportation throughout Panama. The Canal strikes ships over an aquatic staircase of locks that call for a tremendous volume of clean water from the encircling zone. every one passing send drains fifty two million gallons out to sea -- a quantity akin to the day-by-day water use of part one million Panamanians.

Infrastructures just like the Panama Canal, Carse argues, don't easily triumph over nature; they transform ecologies in ways in which serve particular political and monetary priorities. Interweaving histories that diversity from the depopulation of the U.S. Canal area a century in the past to highway building conflicts and water hyacinth invasions in canal waters, the publication illuminates the human and nonhuman actors that experience come jointly on the margins of the recognized exchange path. 2014 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Panama Canal. Beyond the massive Ditch calls us to think about how infrastructures are materially embedded in position, generating environments with winners and losers.

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Additional resources for Beyond the Big Ditch: Politics, Ecology, and Infrastructure at the Panama Canal (Infrastructures)

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However, that drought was neither the first time that the water level had dropped enough to restrict navigation, nor was it the shallowest water on record. And yet, before the 1970s, canal administrators from the United States had emphasized technical solutions to water shortages that were understood as the outcome of low rainfall and heavy traffic. Wadsworth, by contrast, foregrounded regional environmental change. The canal was less than two decades old when a long drought in 1929 and 1930 raised concerns about the capacity of Gatun Lake to provide enough water for navigation and hydroelectric power generation when the waterway reached its full traffic capacity.

Luis hosted me at his house when I conducted ethnographic research in Boquerón. My return visit coincided with his month-long vacation from running the community’s tiny public health post. At that time, Luis and the lone primary school teacher were the only people who received salaries (though meager government ones) to work in the community. 2 The Boquerón River with a low water level. Photo by the author. 29 30 Chapter 2 the closest well-equipped medical center is an hour’s travel by bus and the nearest hospital is three hours away.

Places that were formerly connected can be disconnected and landscapes that once appeared developed can revert to “nature” and be redeployed in new kinds of projects. Infrastructure also has a poetics that shapes how people make sense of the past, the present, and their places in the world, thereby producing moral economies and expectations. Human emotions, feelings, and memories may seem ephemeral, but maintaining robust infrastructure depends on addressing diverse historical experiences and tensions with humility and recognizing the limits of knowledge and control.

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