In local and informal contexts, Panamanians talk about the power of the United States and describe its citizens in multifaceted and complex terms. In this article I examine those views as they are articulated in informal urban settings in Panama City and in conversations with middle-class Panamanians. My respondents evaluate the US-Panama relationship and discuss individual North Americans with realism, reflecting a graceful but critical spirit of forgiveness toward their more powerful ally. A broader awareness of US colonialism in the past is combined with a pragmatic acknowledgement of opportunities in the present and the desire for a more equal relationship in the future. I argue that the opportunity to voice unreserved opinions about powerful Others can potentially empower local actors.
When Panamanians Talk about the United States and Its Citizens
In this article I will compare indigenous cultural performances for outsiders in an allegedly 'inauthentic' Embera community in Panama, which welcomes tourists on a daily basis, with similar staged events in some other less accessible communities, which receive visitors much less frequently. I will challenge the idea introduced by several travellers who seek authentic experiences that the first community is 'unreal' and its repetitive representations of Embera culture are mechanical, sterile and unoriginal. I will argue that these repetitive cultural performances constitute real lived experiences, and do not deserve to be demeaned as inauthentic. I will further maintain that in the 'tourist' community, as well as in the less accessible settlements, the Embera respond to the same set of expectations. They imagine what Western visitors would appreciate from their culture and enact very similar representations of these generalised expectations.
Rhetoric, Agency, and Local Meaning
Elisabeth Kirtsoglou and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
In this article we examine the content and rationale of anti-Americanism in Greece, drawing ethnographic information from two urban centers, Patras and Volos. We pay special attention to the conspiracy theory attributes of this rhetoric, and, instead of dismissing it or seeing it primarily as a manifestation of nationalist thinking, we attempt to unpack the threads of meaning that make it so appealing in local contexts. We look in particular at the etiology of blame within this particular discourse and try to explain the specific readings of history and politics that make it significant in local contexts. We argue that Greek anti-Americanism has an empowering potential for local actors, as it provides them with a certain degree of discursive agency over wider political processes that are beyond their immediate control.