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Zeit: 27.05.2014 18:00 h
Ort: Kugelhaus, Kugelgasse 10


Dr. Mònica Martínez Mauri (Universitat de Barcelona)

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The social and political construction of racial and ethnic categories in national censuses of Panama, 1911-2010

In Panama, one century separates 1911, the year in which the young Republic carried out its first population census, and 2010, the date of the most recent census. During this period ten censuses have been carried out. All of them have categorized the national population according to racial and/or ethnic characteristics, making possible an historical analysis of how such differences are conceptualised and integrated into national statistics. The account offered here starts from the premise that socio-cultural classification categories of this sort are not the product of moral and cultural differences per se, but are rooted instead in political and ideological principles. Censuses help to constitute racial discourse and, as Panama experience also shows, their study reveal the relationship between racial ideas, census-taking and public policy. Panama’s official classifications thus cannot be separated from the history of the State’s relations with
racialised and ethnicised groups, specifically with the indigenous peoples and the descendants of African slaves who have lived within its borders for centuries. In the indigenous case, these relations are characterized by contradictory government policies and by failure on the part of indigenous peoples to organize at a national level.
In reflecting on the political and social nature of these ethnic classifications, and in the process considering how the Panamanian State has managed internal cultural diversity, I analyse three issues related to the construction of socio-political categories. Taking as my starting point the census results and other publications produced by the Comptroller General of the Republic over the last century (1911-2010), I analyze changes in: a) the distribution of cultural difference and ethnic boundaries, b) criteria for identifying indigenous and Afro-Panamanian populations, and c) census methodologies.




Anja Bohnenberger

Zuletzt aktualisiert: 11.04.2014 · Polchert

Fb. 03 - Gesellschaftswissenschaften und Philosophie

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