Postcoloniality and Privilege in New Lifestyle Flows: The Case of North Americans in Panama

By Michaela Benson

This is the first article from my research on North Americans living in Panama. It has been some time in coming since the research was conducted in 2009. What I wanted to demonstrate was that as researchers we needed to think not only critically about privilege, but also about what this means for these lifestyle migrants, whose reproduce privilege through their migration and within the destination. In other words, understanding the role of privilege as a structure in these people’s lives and how they live with as well as resist it. The abstract appears below and the full article is available here:

This article argues for an approach to understanding new lifestyle flows that acknowledges the roles of postcoloniality and privilege in facilitating migration and framing cultural politics on the ground within destinations. Through the deconstruction of postcoloniality and privilege, this article demonstrates the pervasiveness and persistence of these structural and systemic conditions. It illustrates this argument by drawing on the ethnographic case of North Americans living in Panama, documenting their efforts to displace ambivalence about their position within the local community through philanthropic and charitable activities. Despite these efforts, it becomes clear that they cannot completely erase the systemic and structural inequalities that underwrite these lifestyle flows.

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