Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226342450 Will Publish November 2020
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9780226342313 Will Publish November 2020
An e-book edition will be published.

The Singer’s Needle

An Undisciplined History of Panamá

Ezer Vierba

The Singer’s Needle

Ezer Vierba

352 pages | 11 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226342450 Will Publish November 2020
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9780226342313 Will Publish November 2020
E-book $30.00 ISBN: 9780226342597 Will Publish November 2020
Ezer Vierba’s The Singer’s Needle offers an innovative history of twentieth-century Panamá that illuminates the nature of power and politics in a small but volatile nation. Using novelistic techniques, Vierba explores three episodes that proved critical to the shaping and erosion of contemporary Panamanian institutions: the establishment of a penal colony on the island of Coiba in 1919; the judicial drama following the murder of President José Antonio Remón Cantera in 1955; and the “disappearance” of a radical priest in 1971. The episodes are layered in different styles and perspectives, with the narrative voices both illuminating and concealing key moments that illustrate how powerful interests control and create social and political history. Vierba blends historical sociology with novelistic narrative and extensive empirical research, drawing on Michel Foucault’s ideas about the inherent and intricate connections between power, interpretation, and representation. The result is a book that redefines conventional methods of historical writing.

In short, Vierba has produced a multifaceted and deeply felt novelistic tale that reveals not only the nature of power—both institutional and disciplinary—but the contemporary history of a complex country over the course of a tumultuous century.
Editor’s Preface

Part I: Coiba: An Introduction to the Panamanian Subject

Chapter One: Penal Colonialism and National Sovereignty: Porras and the Liberal Reforms, 1912–1924
Chapter Two: Punishment and Subject Formation
Chapter Three: The Singer’s Report: Text and Critique in Coiba, 1920–1935

Part II: Theaters of Authority

Chapter Four: The Remonato, a Hybrid State: 1947–1955
Chapter Five: Trials of Authority: Legal Consciousness and Formal Struggles in the Postwar Era

Part III: On the Way to Chumumbito, Santa Fe

Chapter Six: Héctor’s Hermeneutics: Radical Readings and Christian Liberation in Santa Fe de Veraguas, 1968–1971

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