New Books—“Sovereign Acts: Performing Race, Space, and Belonging in Panama and the Canal Zone”


Here is a book we missed earlier this year. Katherine A. Zien’s Sovereign Acts: Performing Race, Space, and Belonging in Panama and the Canal Zone (Rutgers University Press) was published in September 2017. The Chronicle writes that Sovereign Acts “Examines the ‘performance’ of claims to the Canal Zone in popular entertainments, civic pageantry, and other realms reflecting the competing interests of Panamanians, West Indian laborers, and white U.S. citizens.”

Description (Rutgers University Press): Sovereign Acts explores how artists, activists, and audiences performed and interpreted sovereignty struggles in the Panama Canal Zone, from the Canal Zone’s inception in 1903 to its dissolution in 1999. In popular entertainments and patriotic pageants, opera concerts and national theatre, white U.S. citizens, West Indian laborers, and Panamanian artists and activists used performance as a way to assert their right to the Canal Zone and challenge the Zone’s sovereignty, laying claim to the Zone’s physical space and imagined terrain.

By demonstrating the place of performance in the U.S. Empire’s legal landscape, Katherine A. Zien transforms our understanding of U.S. imperialism and its aftermath in the Panama Canal Zone and the larger U.S.-Caribbean world.

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