Department of Geography Seminar Series: Thomas Sigler

Panama City: Singapore of the Americas?

Thomas Sigler

School of Geography, Planning, and Environmental Management at the University of Queensland , Brisbane, Australia

Date: Friday, 2 November 2012

Time: 3.30 – 5.00 pm

Venue: Earth Lab (AS2 02-03) Department of Geography, NUS

Panama City is the primate city and capital of the eponymous country known best for its canal. The city’s growth and development have historically hinged upon its role in providing commercial services to the adjacent US-occupied ‘Canal Zone’, and later upon its role in offshore banking and ship registry. In the past decade, however, Panama City has flourished economically, expanding on this service platform through regional re- exportation and logistics, and a massive canal expansion project. Applying a historiographical -morphological approach, I analyze and explain this growth, pointing to the fact that city’s economic profile and institutional framework differ sharply from other cities in the region. Moving beyond this isolated case, I suggest the term relational city for cities such as Panama City and Singapore, whose growth and development have been guided by a strong intermediary role. As commercial intermediaries, relational cities benefit from a socio-political hybridity as well as unique territorial configurations and relationships, framed by the term ‘extraterritoriality’. This interpretation stresses function over form, as relational cities are bound together by their role in mediating flows between both global and regional actors.

About the Speaker
Thomas Sigler is a Lecturer in Human Geography within the School of Geography, Planning, and Environmental Management at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Dr. Sigler holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and an MSc and PhD in Geography from Penn State. Over the past few years, Dr. Sigler has worked in various contexts, including Honduras, Panama, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His primary research interests lie in comparative urbanism and global urban networks.

All are welcome.


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