My research, which draws from critical studies of race, heritage, and museology, explores spaces that commemorate racial diversity in Panama’s capital city, from both ‘local’ and ‘national’ perspectives. After completing my first year in the MA folklore program, I traveled to Panama, where I spent ten weeks conducting ethnographic, archival, and participatory action research. My purpose was threefold: first, to make contacts with museum professionals and researchers in Panama; second, to visit and begin researching national heritage sites and their representations of black identity; and third, to conduct interviews and unofficial “walking tours” with members of Afro-Panamanian cultural organizations, in order to identify and photograph significant places of cultural heritage outside the registered national patrimony. The initial project I designed changed significantly within the first month and the primary piece of advice I would recommend to future researchers is to be flexible! Ethnographic work often takes you places you weren’t expecting to go, but this may be beneficial in the long run. This year I will apply to pursue a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Berkeley, and I feel that my time in Panama was successful both for fulfilling the requirements necessary for my Master’s degree and also for exploring avenues for further doctoral research.
August 30, 2018