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Panama by DS

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Panama by DS
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  BLACK MOVEMENT MILITANCY IN PANAMA:RELIANCE ON AN IDENTITY OF WEST INDIANNESS Introduction The legacy of West Indianness in Panama results from what is perhaps the most important modern exodus of African descendents within Spanish America and the Caribbean that took place primarily during the late 1800s and the first decades of the twentieth century. The arrival and establishment of a large community of West Indians from the English-speaking Caribbean within Panamanian and, at that time, North American controlled territory marks the introduction of another kind of identity in a Hispanic space, one in contrast with the miscegenated national subject who dominates in that space. Over time, the immigrants settled into that new society, established their own entities, and negotiated opportunities to promote and ensure their livelihood and well- being. Their successful transition and integration is a work in progress, indeed, examination of the community’s trajectory over the ensuing decades adds to the story andlegacy of blacks in the Spanish Americas, with its own specificities. As occurred with  black communities in other Latin American spaces such as Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, these West Indians have arrived at a place of obligation, consciousness, and commitment arguably driven by the divide of a racialized nationhood that separates them from the native-born population as well as by experiences of socio-economic difficulty and isolation within the newly adopted space. This study contemplates their spirit of commitment to the group and their strategies of negotiation that remain to date. The purpose is to understand their construction of identity as well as  political and cultural strategies to ensure recognition of their civil rights as true citizens of   the land. Strategies of black activism seem to combine with a unique displacement of a discourse of race in favor of a discourse of Caribbeanness.PARADIGMS OF RACE AND IDENTITY. NEGRITUDE AND CARIBBEAN IDENTITY. A GEOGRAPHY OF SORTSCARIBBEANNESSThe peoples of West Indian srcins in Panama are primarily descendents of black islanders who in turn were direct descendents of the slaves who populated the ex-British colonies in the Americas. Differently from Afro-Panamanians their familial lines suffered practically no miscegenation with their British colonizers. They identify as West Indians, a specific distinction in the -Caribbean Basin since it distinguishes an Anglophone  background from the Hispanic, Francophone, and Dutch heritages that also mark the Caribbean region by virtue of the multi-tiered colonizations. Today there are scholarly analyses that refer to discourses and processes of cultural creolization used to describe the linguistic, racialized, and cultural blends that make the Caribbean region the melting  pot it is, a place of cultural encounters and disencounters. Creolité/SEE ODILE AND WHAT’S HER FACE This relativization of Caribbean, and therefore West Indian identityis not the preferred representation when it comes to the process of group identification and belonging developed by West Indians in Panama. West Indian identity becomes somewhat hegemonic as it faces Panamanian Hispanism and nationalism on the one handand severities of North American segregation on the other. The West Indianness that emerges in Panama is actually one that does not exist in the Caribbean, rather it is one specifically molded to protect the uniqueness of the group that identifies by it. The nature2  of this sense of being came from the fact that they were and continue to be easily identified in Panamanian society by virtue of skin color, language, place of dwelling, religion, and customs. Over time, The common history they share is also important. An important symbol of identification is the arrival by ship …BIBLIO The legacy of a maritime arrival interestingly enough mirrors the tremendous historically ideologically loaded trajectory of their ancestors, the African slaves who endured the Middle Passage. The construction of a hegemonic Panamanian West Indian identity is also fiercely  protected and defended because of shared economic difficulty and their vision that their  blood sweat and tears are responsible for the greatness Panama now enjoys, a greatness lodged in the phenomenon that is the Panama Canal. They paid with their live and therefore have proven their worth and value to this nation they now choose to call theirs.Their initial struggles for economic stability and socio-ethnic acceptance were intense and these difficulties provoked alliances that otherwise may not have been  possible in light of the fact that the migrant workers, albeit from the Caribbean, were from different territories that shared the common trait of being British and French colonies. In the end, these alliances consolidated themselves loosely in the face of adversary creating what can be described in generic terms as a kind of black movement. Organizations, defense strategies, and a particular discourse emerge, to a certain extent, in defiance of authority on the one hand and designed to protect West Indian life, on the other. The nature of this enterprise is under scrutiny in this study as we seek to question and politicize its course for the way it suggests a celebration of Negritude, a sense of 3  shared African-srcinated legacy, and a common historical path initiated during slavery and colonization. The use of the term “black movement” promotes a discussion around issues of racialized politics, suggesting that the group is conscious of its difference in a space that prefers to promote its sense of self as predominantly Hispanic-mestizo in nature. An important example of this sense of racialized community consciousness is the organization called the Sociedad de Amigos del Museo Afroantillano de Panamá (Societyof Friends of the Afro-Antillean Museum of Panama) or SAMAAP. This organization is extremely proud of the heritage it represents and to a certain extent politicizes its self-definition in terms of Africanness even though their black consciousness movement is less centered on the concept of Africa as the center of their universe and more inclined towards celebration of the socio-economic and industrial achievement of Caribbean  people whose laborious efforts initially gave rise to the monumental Panama Canal. Politicizing their rights as citizens accompanies colorful displays of their diverse culture as one branch of African heritage. These are further complicated by the insistence on privileging things West Indian, creating a marked distinction between them and the local Afro-Panamanian population. Rosa (1993 pp.280-281) affirms that by force of circumstance there is a divide between Africans acculturated in the Caribbean and descendents of Africans acculturated in Panama. This is a separation that was historically inevitable and while it may perpetuate to date it is however currently discouraged by bothgroups whose activists collaborate on several issues. 4  At the time of West Indian arrival, differences in language, religion, diet, and education instilled mistrust and insecurities further compounded by the migrating group’sapparent alliance with the common enemy, the North Americans, provoking the local  population’s marginalization and inability to access the benefits of jobs and housing. Isolated and subjugated, West Indians felt the need to recuperate and cling to their distinctand unique heritage, a move symbolic of a clear sense of pride in their own  predominantly Anglophone Caribbean background. Their immediate origins stood in clear opposition to the central national state of being (whether Afro-Panamanian or mestizo) that dominated in the space they now called home. HISTORYAt the close of the nineteenth century slavery as a system had disappeared in Latin America and the twentieth century saw governments in the region imposing racialized state legislature. The theme of national exclusivity is not new to the region. Studies confirm that in response to the upsurge in certain kinds of unwanted foreign  presence there was reactionary response, hostile and xenophobic in nature, against the new arrivals, seeing them as a threat to the existing local cohesiveness. The confirmation of their inability to match the privileged mainstream phenotype provoked the processes of whitening that occurred in other regional territories. Government-imposed policies came in response to a modernized post-slavery fear of a darkened nation, a fear that ended up targeting and marginalizing national black communities. (Andrews 2004, pp.117-151, Graham 1990, pp.7-28, 39-43). Policies were geared to alleviate their societies from the 5
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