A Canal without a Zone: Conflicting Representations of the Panama Canal
Abstract

By contrasting a National Geographic Society (NGS) map of the Panama Canal from 1912 with an earlier French map of the canal from 1881, this article examines the multiple ways in which it was possible to imagine the relationship between the canal and its surrounding space. These maps help us understand how the canal was separated from the people who lived around it and from the country where it was built. Maps contributed to create a particular relationship between the Panama Canal and its surrounding space, or zone. They helped naturalize the idea that the canal and its Zone were a US space in Central America, with no historical or political connection to the Panamanians who had lived, worked, and traded in the area for centuries.