New Books Network

Katherine Zien

Sovereign Acts

Performing Race, Space, and Belonging in Panama and the Canal Zone

Rutgers University Press 2017

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Caribbean StudiesNew Books in GeographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network July 24, 2020 Sharika Crawford

In Sovereign Acts: Performing Race, Space, and Belonging in Panama and the Canal Zone (Rutgers University Press, 2017), Katherine Zien examines the ways politicians,...

In Sovereign Acts: Performing Race, Space, and Belonging in Panama and the Canal Zone (Rutgers University Press, 2017), Katherine Zien examines the ways politicians, activists, artists, and residents performed and interpreted sovereignty in the Canal Zone from U.S. control over the zone in 1903 to its withdrawal in 1999. Moving beyond the big ditch and construction of the interoceanic canal, Zien explores how white Zonians, West Indian laborers and their descendants, and Panamanians wrestled with the issue of sovereignty over the Canal Zone in the area of popular entertainment. From clubhouses to the national theatre, Zien notes the performative nature of sovereignty as various historical actors challenged or upheld the performance of U.S. new imperialism.

Enjoy this refreshing take on the history of the Canal Zone.


Sharika Crawford is associate professor of history at the United States Naval Academy.