In this address, I examine the ways in which settler colonial logics shape residential tourism development on the Atlantic Coast of Panama. I entangle feminist political ecological assertions that struggles over nature are embodied struggles, with intersectional and relational understandings of land and body, drawn from a fusion of critical feminist thought. While it is true that settler colonial logics of elimination have gendered implications for indigenous Ngobe women, I focus on Afro-Panamanian women, and illustrate through ethnographic testimonies, the ways in which settler logics of elimination manifest in the naturalization of Afro-Panamanian women as criadas (maids). Such imaginative and material geographies reflect conventional racial-sexual-gendered histories that take for granted black female servitude and landlessness on the Atlantic coast. Thus, I argue that Afro-Panamanian women’s participation in Bocas’ tourism enclave–a project that seeks to erase indigenous and black relations to coastal lands and foster their subjection to foreign settlers–is simultaneously a reflection of their demands to remain on the coast.
About Dr. Mollett:
As a feminist political ecologist and cultural geographer, my work interrogates multiple forms of power shaping land conflicts in Latin America. Drawing insights from postcolonial, decolonial and critical feminist/racial studies in the Americas, my work examines the multiple ways racial and gendered ideologies and logics shape natural resource conflicts embedded in a variety of international development projects, namely, protected area management, land titling and residential tourism in Honduras and Panama. Broadly, my interests include how place-specific representations and meanings of race, gender and sexuality are imbued in land and territorial struggles and how indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, and non-indigenous campesinos are incorporated within, and resist, elite and state land centered development projects/processes.