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Geography, Empire, and Environmental Determinism

Stephen Frenkel
Geographical Review
Vol. 82, No. 2 (Apr., 1992), pp. 143-153
DOI: 10.2307/215428
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/215428
Page Count: 11
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Geography, Empire, and Environmental Determinism
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Abstract

This article explores the relationship among geography, environmental determinism, and early-twentieth-century development of the Panama Canal Zone. The apparent scientific basis of environmental determinism provided both American policymakers and American Canal Zone residents with an acceptable explanation and rationalization for imperialism in Panama. On the basis of the thesis's academic trappings, everything from pay, privileges, racial hierarchy, and spatial patterns of housing to social control could be understood in ostensibly objective terms. Interpreting Panama through the theoretical lens of environmental determinism offers insights into the character of American prejudices and interests abroad.

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