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Panamanian Museums and Historical Memory

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Volume 6

Museums and Diversity

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Panamanian Museums and Historical Memory

Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws

146 pages, 52 color & b/w illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-240-5 $59.95/£47.95 Pb Published (May 2011)

Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“At a time when issues of nationalism and national identity continue to exercise the minds of policy makers in governments around the globe, museums continue to play a key role in the cultural imagining of the nation. This innovative and timely volume examines the development of the representation of nationhood in a variety of museums and art installations within Panama. As such it makes a most useful and original contribution to the growing literature about the conceptualisation of the nation state within museums.”  ·  Sheila Watson, University of Leicester

"Sánchez Law’s work is an important contribution to a much needed debate on Panamanian heritage issues. Her main conclusion, that the exclusion of contemporary conflicts from museums is a way to exclude a segment of the population from participating in the build-up of national identity, is both well argued and suggestive. As a platform for more socially responsible representations in Panamanian museums, this book is of interest not only to museum people but to everyone who is interested in the role of history in society." ·  Anders Johansen, University of Bergen


Panama is an ethnically diverse country with a recent history of political conflict which makes the representation of historical memory an especially complex and important task for the country’s museums. This book studies new museum projects in Panama with the aim of identifying the dominant narratives that are being formed as well as those voices that remain absent and muted. Through case analyses of specific museums and exhibitions the author identifies and examines the influences that form and shape museum strategy and development.

Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws is Associate Professor in Media and Design, Volda University College, Norway. Her research has focused on the use of new technologies to address contested topics in museums, and on issues of diversity and social inclusion in museums. Her most recent project is in the area of interaction design, and involves the creation of multitouch prototypes as support for pedagogical activities at the upcoming Museo de la Casa Colonial in Panama Viejo, Panama.

Subject: Museum Studies Memory Studies
Area: Latin America and the Caribbean


Notes on Transliteration

Chapter 1. Introduction

  • Panama as “a melting pot”
  • Political conflict, past and present
  • A short note on methodology
  • Chapter outline

Chapter 2. A short history of Panama

  • Pre-Columbian Panama
  • The arrival of the Spanish
  • Independence from Spain and union with Colombia
  • The birth of the Republic of Panama
  • The Dule Revolution, further migrations, and institutionalized racism
  • Growing conflicts in the Canal Zone and the Torrijos Era
  • The 1980s crisis
  • The New Democratic Period

Chapter 3. The Reina Torres de Araúz Anthropological Museum (MARTA)

  • Emergence of the Museum of the Panamanian Man
  • The Exhibition
  • From Museum of the Panamanian Man to MARTA

Chapter 4. The Panamá Viejo Visitor Centre

  • The Spanish Empire and the foundation of Panamá La Vieja
  • World Heritage and the management of Panamá La Vieja
  • The Exhibition

Chapter 5. The Museum of Nationality

  • La Villa de Los Santos
  • Emergence of the museum
  • Current Exhibition
  • Contemporary debates

Chapter 6. The Museum of the Kuna Nation

  • The Comarca Kuna Yala
  • Emergence of the Museum and Exhibition

Chapter 7. The Museum of the Inter-Oceanic Canal(Museo del Canal Interoceánico de Panamá)

  • San Felipe
  • Emergence of the Museum
  • The Exhibition

Chapter 8. The West Indian Museum of Panama

  • El Marañón
  • Emergence of the Museum and Current Exhibition
  • Debates around the Museum: between highlighting and downplaying the African elements in Panamanianness

Chapter 9. The 7th Panama Art Biennial at the Museum of Contemporary Art

  • ciudadMULTIPLEcity: urban spaces for play, critique and reflection
  • The 7th Panama Art Biennial
  • The Exhibition
  • Conclusion and epilogue
  • Hybrid management
  • New technologies

Works Cited

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