Konferensartikel

Nationhood and otherness in Panamanian Museums: The case of the National Museum and the Anthropological Museum Reina Torres de Arauz

Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws
Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway

Ladda ner artikelhttp://www.ep.liu.se/ecp_article/index.en.aspx?issue=031;article=004

Ingår i: National museums in a global world. NaMu III; Department of culture studies and oriental languages; University of Oslo; Norway; 19-21 November 2007

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 31:4, s. 51-61

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Publicerad: 2008-07-16

ISBN:

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)

Abstract

In my thesis project; Museums in Panama City: New Media for a New Democracy; I investigatethe role museums play in current democratic processes in Panama. I look at a set of museums predominantly in Panama City; the capital of the country and one of the most diverse cities in Latin America. The development of two new media products – a game about post-conflict memory and a model for a City Museum - complement the analysis of these museums. Both models focus on how to create channels of dialogue between museums and their audiences; as well as investigate the museum’s role as a site for change and debate.

Within this study of the narratives present in Panama City museums in the context of democracy build-up; I investigate the decision to dismantle the National Museum in the 1970’s and its transformation into a series of specialized National Museums; amongst them the Museum of the Panamanian Man; now known as the Anthropological Museum Reina Torres de Arauz (MARTA). I use the case of the National Museum and its later fragmentation as springboard to discuss the challenges that Panama’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity as well as contested history pose for the creation of a museum that expressly attempts to represent the master narrative of Panamanian nationhood.

In this sense; I am interested in who is included or excluded as part of this nationhood; who is portrayed as “us” and who is portrayed as “the other”. In the discussion to come; I point out that what is included in the narratives of nationhood are often those aspects of a group that are more easily acceptable. For example; in the case of current representations of U.S. presence in the country; the emphasis is on the engineering works of the Canal; and not in the political conflicts during most of their military presence in Panama. Another example is the history of the Black community; which is only picked up in museums with the history of the West Indies migrations for the construction of the railroad; evading the previous history of slavery during the Spanish Conquest. I will be discussing in more detail these examples; but my focus will be in Indigenous representations.

I begin by setting the frame for the discussion with a brief background of Panama City and its museums.

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