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The Singer's NeedleAn Undisciplined History of Panamá$
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Ezer Vierba

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226342313

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226342597.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

Penal Colonialism and National Sovereignty

Penal Colonialism and National Sovereignty

Porras and the Liberal Reforms, 1912–1924

Chapter:
(p.3) 1 Penal Colonialism and National Sovereignty
Source:
The Singer's Needle
Author(s):

Ezer Vierba

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226342597.003.0001

The chapter deals with the period of state-building under the Liberal Belisario Porras through a discussion of the construction of the penal colony in the Island of Coiba. While modern criminology prescribed the construction of urban penitentiaries, the penal colony can be understood within the larger liberal state-building project. It was supposed to boost modern agricultural production, to rehabilitate the prisoner while teaching him to work, to colonize the “savage” interior of the country, and to connect its resources with the urban center. It is argued that Coiba was appealing to the liberals because it encapsulated the notion that in order for Panama to gain sovereignty, it had to be strong enough to “stand on its own”; in order to do so the government had to colonize the interior and civilize its lower classes.

Keywords:   Belisario Porras, Isla de Coiba, penitentiaries, penal colonies, Panamanian liberalism, Panama Canal, Canal Zone, American empire

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