Trans-isthmus

To understand the American isthmus’ secondary record that gave way to its communal adaptation out of the Transatlantic phase of human civilization, one must first keep in mind the attempts, if not the documentative incentives to expand their hegemonic habitat overseas, that were made first by earlier European subjects. First, the Spanish made use of Panama’s rich waterways when they crossed the country by foot and by river just to get to Peru. Other pivotal oceanic straits such as the Strait of Magellan in the southernmost tip of South America were crucial to elite-status opinion in Europe over how to maintain prospective colonies beyond those sea routes. They were essential though dangerous for maritime European travel and transport of resources and immigrants long before the Panama Canal was constructed.

The geographical benefactor of the Panama Canal, which helped pave the way for both local and foreign migration settlement in the Central American isthmus, was a cite for pre-Columbian-age awe and wonder for some explorers prior to its urbanization. A couple centuries later, it became marked greatly as an advantage point for corporate modules across the Atlantic in the wake of the twentieth century. The goal of this topic is not to unravel how Euro-American expansionists sought law and order when connecting the two large bodies of water together in one urban hot spot, but rather how social order in the American isthmus maintained itself through whatever artificial changes erupted in one of the most economically crucial landmarks in world history.

The Strait of Magellan, as mentioned in the introduction of this project, was like the second phase of Europeans attempting to reach East Asia, following Columbus’ four voyages that happened only a decade ago when Magellan first embarked on his. Eventually, all other naval entities such as the English and the French had to risk sailing around the hazardous, storm-infested Cape Horn to reach Pacific destinations. One fervent figure who’s well-known for making this passage was the English privateer, Sir Francis Drake, who sailed up the northern Pacific as far as Alaska in search of the “Middle Passage” back to England. In the case of crossing the Panama Canal in comparison a century later, European and Anglo migrants and travelers alike often endured the worst case of yellow fever among the mosquitoes of the area that feasted upon their newly-discovered fresh skin as soon as they arrived. It was not until these non-maritime subjects acquired repellants and formulas such as quinine that made crossing the canal more welcoming, even livable, for white urban Americans in the early twentieth century.

Depictions of non-white Canal Zone locals as members of an illiterate, sub-human category were embedded within American politics and common opinion over who determines the law in the Panama Canal Zone. Although centered around the years 1912-1940, earlier trials of Anglo-American urbanization in the isthmus of the Americas were set in place at this time. Since Panama shares the neighboring tropical and port proximity of the Caribbean, it became a simple vacation and resort spot for many upper and middle class Americans, as well as residential areas under U.S. policy. The Canal Zone was drawn out and “sanitized” to suit the orderly, mainland comforts of white tidy, middle-class American migrants. This in turn caused them to segregate West Indian locals within the Canal Zone, who had already developed genetic flows in their traits to adapt to the filthiness of the jungle unlike their Anglo-American counterparts.

“Other” and “otherness” were the common profiling terms predicated by Canal Zone urbanites to describe West Indian inhabitants as unfit for the Western eugenics movement. Sometimes it becomes hardly ambiguous to understand how “Self” became the “self-satisfying” rhetoric implied by the Canal Zone’s foreign elite and middle-class society, as if “Other” is meant to reflect on someone or something without any intrinsic value whatsoever. Through perpetual yet substantial discourses between one ethnicity and all the rest back then, the issue with the social context of Atlantic history in this scenario is credibility. Most countries that fell under the hegemonic grasp of Western colonizing societies along the Atlantic did not centrally display as much constitutional character needed to assert how competent the nation can minister for itself, with citizens as modernly fluent and competent as a baseball glove per se. An ethnic divide is easily wrought in this case, as those who shared no Anglo or white European lineage in their blood were promptly ousted as inferior individuals that can be expensed out of their labors easily.

In his memoirs of his travels to Panama, Welsh explorer Lionel Wafer wrote about the cultivational features of the natives of the Darien countryside that he encountered in the late seventeenth century. Cultural factors featured here include the specialized grooming of their hair that women found to be a ritual sign of mating for them. Indian women are distilled to a harsh, domestic environment (i.e. planting, weaving, child rearing) by the men. Yet Wafer addresses further how the women upheld all their rigorous task for their husbands, with pure loyalty and cheerfulness and without any cognitive regards to women’s “drudgery” in a post-modern sense.

Wafer also noticed a seemingly odd ethnic minority among the Isthmian natives. A small percentage of “white” pale-skinned, bright-haired Indians resided in the community: they were apparently much shorter and less immune to the invigorating benefits of sunlight than their tanned peers. These brief elements alone began to fool Wafer and his companions as to how this small percentage of whom was presumed to be of Caucasian-descent ended up all the way in a tropical landscape that lies halfway across the world from Eurasia, prior to Columbus’ voyages.

“Mostese,” a cross between white European and American Indian, was obviously one viable presumption among Wafer’s crew as to how a pale-skinned group of island dwellers could exist, in contrast to those same groups found in habitats of higher altitudes. Very few …read more