by Blake Scott and Andres Lombana-Bermudez
A new documentary film series.
This short film tells the migration story of the Emberá indigenous community, Parara Puru, and how the community entered into Panama’s tourism industry.
“The past is never dead,” as William Faulkner and this website remind us, “It’s not even past.” We explore the endurance of the past in the present through ethnographic filmmaking. In January 2013, we traveled to Panama to observe and participate in the country’s growing tourism industry. We met with guides, tourists, entrepreneurs, maids, hustlers, retirees, and a whole lot of beautiful and very complicated human beings. The documentary film series, I am tourism/ Yo soy turismo sheds light on the personal histories that make up contemporary tourism in Panama and the Caribbean.
This short video is the beginning of the documentary project. This semester we will be revising this first video and working on another short film focused on the cruise ship industry in the Caribbean city of Colon. Our goal is to create a series of short films that can serve as an educational resource for students of tourism, history, and cross-cultural exchange.
If you have any feedback or comments, or would like to learn more about the project, please let us know.
For more information on the history and culture of the Emberá in Panama:
“Indigenous Land and Environmental Conflicts in Panama: Neoliberal Multiculturalism, Changing Legislation, and Human Rights,” by Julie Velásquez Runk, Journal of Latin American Geography, Volume 11, Number 2, 2012,
“Emberá Indigenous Tourism and the Trap of Authenticity: Beyond Inauthenticity and Invention,” by Dimitrios Theodossopoulos, Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 86, Number 2, Spring 2013, pp. 397-425.
To learn about the Panama Canal and its role in Panamanian History:
The Canal Builders: Making America’s Empire at the Panama Canal by Julie Greene
The Panama Canal: The Crisis in Historical Perspective by Walter LaFeber
More documentaries about Panama, the Canal, and Tourism:
Panama Deception, by Barbara Trent
Paraiso for Sale, by Anayansi Prado
You may also like Jonathan Brown’s piece about LBJ’s fascinating conversation with the Panamanian President: A Rare Phone Call from One President to Another