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The Politics of Race in PanamaAfro-Hispanic and West Indian Literary Discourses of Contention$
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Sonja Stephenson Watson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813049861

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813049861.001.0001

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Race, Language, and National Identity in Afro-Panamanian Literary Discourse

Race, Language, and National Identity in Afro-Panamanian Literary Discourse

(p.1) Introduction Race, Language, and National Identity in Afro-Panamanian Literary Discourse
The Politics of Race in Panama

Sonja Stephenson Watson

University Press of Florida

The introduction illustrates how the articulation of race, language, and nation is problematic within Panamanian literary discourse because it is tied to a national imaginary that emphasizes Panamanian nationality and Spanish heritage. National rhetoric coupled with mestizaje discourse stymied black consciousness and further marginalized West Indian immigrants to Panama. Not only did the national ideology exclude blackness, but it also spurred intra-ethnic tensions between Afro-Hispanics and West Indians, a racial dynamic that is unique to Panama. Inevitably, national ideological tensions arose between “Spanish” Afro-Hispanics and “black” West Indians. These ideological tensions are manifest in the literary discourse of blacks in Panama from the nineteenth century to the present.

Keywords:   National imaginary, Mestizaje discourse, Panamanian nationality, Spanish heritage

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