2010 Meeting Abstracts

2010 Meeting Paper Abstracts

2010 Society for Economic Anthropology Annual Meeting
Contested Economies: Global Tourism and Cultural Heritage

Plenary Session Paper Abstracts

 

Session One: Economic Interactions in Tourist Zones

 

Jenny Huberman
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Title: Of Sales Pitches and Speech Genres: Peddling Personality on the Riverfront of Banaras

The riverfront of Banaras has long been a popular destination among western travelers in India. However, over the last few decades it has also become a popular place for local children to do business. Many children come to the riverfront to peddle postcards and souvenirs or, to offer their services as guides. Drawing upon twenty months of fieldwork, in this paper I examine how these children went about selling their goods and services to foreign tourists. I ask, what contributed to their successes and failures? And, what does this reveal about the way value was produced and consumed within this informal tourist economy? Borrowing from Bakhtin’s essay on speech genres (Bakhtin 1986), I argue that the children’s varying abilities to “master,” “manipulate” and “re-animate the sales pitch played a pivotal role in determining their success. Those children who adopted a more generic approach often had a much more difficult time endearing themselves and their products to western tourists. Alternatively, those children who were able to play with the genre and re-animate it with humor and sensitivity often met with considerable success. Not only were they praised for their witty and winning “personalities” but they were also rewarded with increased sales and in some cases, special gifts. I conclude the paper by considering how this recurring appreciation for “personality” and personal encounters may point to a larger shift in both the object and mode of touristic consumption; one that goes beyond a desire for ‘authentic’ or ‘exotic’ Others and places, and is much more concerned with the production and consumption of intimate experiences and relations.

 

Amy Speier
Eckerd College
Title: Reproductive Tourism: Health Care Crisis Reifies Globalized Stratified Reproduction

Medical tourism has recently exploded onto the ethnographic scene, as people are increasingly seeking health treatment on a global scale. Much of the emergent literature from popular news sources focuses on the campaigns of countries and medical facilities to cater to foreign patients. By contrast, anthropologists often focus on the perspectives of the care-seekers. Anthropologists have studied the complex motivations for patient tourists who have traveled abroad for hip replacement surgery, plastic surgery and new reproductive technologies, to name only a few. Patient tourists travel to circumvent high costs, waiting lists, regulations, or limited capabilities of their local medical systems. Ethnographic studies have shown ways in which the cultural context from where patient tourists are traveling often determines the main reasons why people travel for the sake of health. For example, lack of technological or medical resources in one’s country may encourage one to travel for health care. Or, long waiting lists in Canada or Britain may be the main impetus for seeking medical care abroad. In the United States, a lack of insurance coverage, health care costs and the general health care crisis are the main reasons people travel abroad for health care. Reproductive tourism has grown as one of the main types of medical tourism, and it is sought out by those who are seeking more affordable or less regulated infertility treatment. American tourists are especially interested in more affordable treatments, and Czech clinics offer treatments that are half the price of American clinics. This paper will examine the complex reasons why Americans are traveling to the Czech Republic for reproductive travel, of which cost is just one factor among many. Patient tourist motivations will be explored, considering the way in which a consumer model of health care is framing their “choice” to travel abroad for IVF or egg donation. This paper will consider the ways in which reproductive travel often exacerbates stratified reproduction, since it is still only middle or upper class Americans who can afford treatment abroad. Also, the economic relationship between Czech egg donors and American patient tourists will be explored, despite the rhetoric of altruism and gifts often used by infertility clinics. Reproductive tourism reflects political economies of health in a transnational era, as new forms of inequalities are refracted within a global model of consumer-driven health care.

 

Jane Henrici
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Title: More than Merely Lunch and a Tip: Professional Guides of Cusco and Ideals of Education

As anthropologists have noted, much about tourism is both paradoxical and problematic as an investment for a people: communities can end up trying to sell off what characterizes them and in exchange receive pollution, humiliation, and a dependence on the capriciousness of tourist taste. Industrial tourism is almost 200 years old and, as a loosely-constituted set of enterprises, creates for women and men opportunities that like others within the service sector tend to be relatively unstable, without consistent standards of pay or benefits, and little in the way of career mobility. Research over the past few decades within the elaborated tourist district and World Heritage Site of Cusco, Peru meanwhile shows that tourism work can be differentiated within a local hierarchy. Race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, and sexuality affect employment opportunities and exchanges with tourists. In addition, those aspects of identity attract and filter tourism business such that peoples and nations manipulate and market images of themselves. In the Cusco district, those categories of identity that might receive the most local discrimination against them are generally those that are held to the tourist as most representative: indigenous men, women, and children. At the same time, mixed-ancestry families who are involved in tourism, established centuries ago and forming part of the local elite of the area, themselves can be dominated by the wealthy of the nation’s coast and capital. The district is a complex mixture of international investment, national control, regional status, and local custom. As transnational trade expands around Cusco, and since Machu Picchu has been declared a World Wonder, the traditional loosens further its hold over the everyday. Within the hierarchy of tourism labor, meanwhile, some of the women and men who take tourist jobs may hold a bit more power than others and gain a social and economic mobility even as their work in heritage tourism is directed at least in part at keeping change stifled. A tour guide is arguably one of these simultaneously liminal and central figures that can be well positioned relative to others in tourism; in addition, within the Peruvian Cusco region, researchers have shown that distinctions exist among guides. In the paper, I take my past work about gender across tourism and build on the work by others about guides, using participatory fieldwork through interviews conducted among guides by a guide in Cusco. This paper will discuss what certain long-established cusqueño guides choose to emphasize concerning the preparation required and mobility possible with respect to what they consider their profession: that of educating others. In presenting this framing of this aspect of tourism as a form of economic development, this paper will expand on the existing literature to consider a less-examined traditional character of Cusco, that which might be determinedly middle-class in its valuing of formal education and employment and, at the same time, its own vanishing culture.

 

Cindy Isenhour
University of Kentucky
Title: Sacrificing Cultural Capital for Sustainability: Identity, Class, and the Swedish Staycation

In Sweden, where discussions of class difference are rendered taboo by an ideology of equality and classlessness, markers of cultural capital are of extraordinary significance. In this context, things like designer lighting fixtures, academic degrees, and international travel provide some citizens with a subtle, yet potent, means to signal elevated social status. Vacations in exotic and unique locals are particularly salient markers in Sweden, where great value is placed on international experiences. Swedes are among the world’s most practiced international tourists and their extensive travels have helped to foster a strong global consciousness and concern for international issues throughout the country. Yet many Swedes find themselves deeply conflicted as the environmental costs of long-distance air travel are made increasingly clear. Drawing on 14 months of research with Swedes who have modified their lifestyles in the interests of sustainability, this paper examines the tradeoffs that environmentally-concerned Swedes make as they weigh the social and personal benefits of international travel against their concern for sustainability and their perceptions of the common good. Drawing on seminal theory in economic anthropology, I explore how notions of morality, utility, rationality and self-interest become intertwined as Swedes imagine alternative vacations. The strategies they utilize to resolve this tension illustrate considerable diversity and even more ambivalence. Some maintain that it is important to continue traveling responsibly, providing essential economic support to developing economies dependent on ecotourism. Others resolve any conflicted feelings by purchasing carbon offsets when booking airline tickets. Yet many are making much more drastic changes, refusing to fly and planning long train journeys across Europe and into Asia. Some are planning staycations. Regardless of the strategies they choose, these environmentally-concerned, well-educated, middle class Swedes argue that international travel is one of the hardest things to sacrifice in the interest of sustainability. While they associate this difficulty with their desire to see the world, my research suggests that their conflicts are also closely linked to their hesitancy to surrender a clear marker of cultural capital in Swedish society. While staycations can be fun, they don’t fulfill a traveler’s urge to explore, nor do they enhance the traveler’s ability to construct a cosmopolitan identity. However, many Swedes argue that while staycations don’t allow them to see the world, they might help to save it.

 

Session Two: Tourism and (The Failures Of) Economic Development

 

Paul A. Rivera, California State University Channel Islands
Patricia L. Delaney, St. Michael’s College
Title: Fakatonga on the Brink: Generalized Reciprocity Meets Tourism in Tonga

There are no non?stop flights from the United States to the Kingdom of Tonga. As the passengers deplane for a stopover in Samoa or New Zealand before continuing to Nuku’alofa, the pa’alangi (non?Tongans) witness a curious phenomenon. A parade of Tongan women march into the restrooms only to emerge some time later, their tank tops, skirts, high heels and make?up gone, replaced with Tongan dresses and intricately woven kie kie around their waists, once again truly Tongan and ready for the last leg of the journey. As a country with a labyrinth of cultural tapu, the temptation is to interpret these actions as symbolic of the respect Tongans have for their cultural traditions and the strength of their identity. The researcher, however, must question the completeness of the transformation: Did they also shed their foreign habits and ideas? Or, are they importing the next wave of cultural change to Tonga? The Kingdom of Tonga finds itself at a critical crossroads in its political, economic, social and cultural history. As the only remaining monarchy in the region, Tongans take pride in their social hierarchy and the fact that they have never been subject to colonial rule. However, the stresses of global influence are progressively evident. It is clear, for example, that the growth sectors in the Tongan economy are increasingly controlled by foreigners, due in part to the fact that Tongan system of generalized reciprocity does not easily fit into a capitalist market structure. Further, the Tongan standard of living is largely upheld by the steady flow of remittances coming from Tongans residing abroad. To further complicate the situation, some Tongans believe that traditional social hierarchy has been manipulated and grossly exaggerated by the nobility and the royal family for their own personal financial gain. This expanding situation of dispossession, dependency, and frustration has already led to civil unrest. In the face of these changes, tourism, in its broadest sense, may serve as the lynchpin of cultural continuity or as the catalyst for transformation. When high school students learn to reproduce the artifacts of Tongan culture, is fakatonga (“the Tongan way”) ensured for the future, or is it diluted by its focus on the tourism trade? Are the students at a local tourism/hospitality college readying for a new aspect of the Tongan service economy, or are they instead acquiring skills that will serve them abroad? Might the latter actually be a better way to preserve Tongan culture? This paper seeks to analyze the development of the Tongan economy and the path of cultural change framed in the context of tourism, both inbound and outbound. In particular, we seek to examine the resilience of Tonga’s broad based system of generalized reciprocity, which permeates nearly every aspect of social and economic life, against the influences of tourism and other external forces.

 

Jeffrey H. Cohen, Anthropology, The Ohio State University
Anjali Browning, University of California, San Diego, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies
Title: When tourism fails: the collapse of craft production in Oaxaca

Tourism, in the form of increasing local craft production, is often celebrated as an important avenue for rural growth and poverty alleviation in the Third World. Nevertheless, the very assumptions that surround craft production as one way to encourage rural growth and development often forget that success and growth are dependent on at least three factors. First, international tastes can shift rapidly leaving local craft producers with few opportunities to meet new demands. Second, the popularity of destinations can decline in response to real or perceived dangers making it impossible for local producers to access the tourism market directly. And third, the costs of doing business and the competition that business creates can grow to become burdensome to local entrepreneurs as they compete to sell wares to visitors. For these reasons and more, tourism may not be a key to economic development and rather than an antidote to a lack of growth, it may exacerbate differences, impoverish individuals and marginalize communities in new ways. Using research in Oaxaca, Mexico we explore how and why tourism fails to support local development and build alternative economic opportunities. The state’s continued economic and political crises combined with the rising costs of doing business conspire to limit and undermine the success of local tourism and development initiatives. In this presentation we use data collected in several Oaxacan artisan communities to explore the crises that can surround and limit tourism and limit its positive impacts. Specifically, we use examples from carvers, weavers and basketmakers to illustrate the ways in which craft production contributes to growing economic inequality and marginality for most producers, how concepts of work, value and worth have shifted to underrate the work of local artisans and how mercurial shifts in tourist tastes undermine local efforts to ‘grow’ or develop economically. Our examples and discussion contribute to the ongoing discussion of tourism’s problematic role in development.

 

Katrina T. Greene
Biola University
Title: Women, Entrepreneurship, and Empowerment: Black-owned Township Tourism in Cape Town, South Africa

This paper will examine how various black women who live in the townships outside of Cape Town, South Africa were becoming small business entrepreneurs by turning their private residences into bed and breakfast and/or guesthouse establishments to cater to township tourists. Many of these entrepreneurs believed that they had been excluded from the post-apartheid Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) agenda, which commenced with a primary focus on the creation of large-scale investment opportunities and networks to redress the marginalization of blacks in the economic system. The female entrepreneurs in my research study felt that they needed to find other avenues particular to their local contexts to empower themselves. Ethnographic research for this paper was conducted in 2005 with female entrepreneurs in the townships of Guguletu, Langa, and Khayelitsha and demonstrated a specific gender dynamic with regard to women leading the way in the creation of bed and breakfast and/or guesthouse establishments. Many of these women were retired professionals who were divorced, widowed, or never married and who had or were enrolled in courses to help them with their small businesses. Prior to the opening of their establishments, tourists who desired to tour the townships arrived by bus or car, stayed for a few hours to visit sites of interest, and then returned to the hotels and guesthouses located in the city center or other areas of Cape Town to spend the night. In depth interviews with multiple township bed and breakfast and/or guesthouse entrepreneurs revealed their desire to partake in the economic benefits and growth which accompanied the tourist industry to the townships in the post-apartheid period. They also deemed their small businesses as conduits for job creation and income generation opportunities for members of their communities, which continued to experience high unemployment rates. In addition to interacting with the literature on the tourism economy in historically marginalized communities, this paper will explore how emerging black-owned township tourism reflects a refocusing on local level entrepreneurial initiatives to generate change and development in South Africa. The paper will also examine the particular gender issues that contribute to an understanding of how and why some women are attracted to the bed and breakfast/guesthouse subsector of the township tourism economy. My analysis will include a focus on the struggles of these entrepreneurs with regard to their lack of adequate financial and institutional support, inability to access and sustain effective marketing tools, and dependence on non-local large-scale tour operators for access to specific types of clientele.

 

Session Three: The Economics of Cultural Heritage and Identity

 

Bob Shepherd
The George Washington University
Title: Shaping Heritage to Serve Development: Bureaucratic Conflict & Local Agency at Two Chinese Heritage Sites

Two generations after the Cultural Revolution aimed to destroy all aspects of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage as part of a Maoist campaign against the ‘four olds’ (customs, habits, culture, and ideas) the government of the People’s Republic of China has become a strong proponent of the UNESCO World Heritage campaign. How and why has a government that in the recent past actively sought to erase the past of its own society become such a vocal proponent of the concept of a global cultural heritage, and how does this relate to nation-building measures within China? My project examines the inter-relationship between tourism as an economic development tool, its interaction with environmental concerns, how this impacts cultural heritage policies, and the role local community actors hold in this process. I begin by situating this national heritage campaign within the framework of ongoing economic changes in China and state attempts to refashion national identity through a series of policies including the promotion of domestic tourism. To provide context to this analysis I focus on two Buddhist sites, the temple complex of Wutai Shan (Mount Wutai), located in Shanxi Province approximately 400 hundred miles southwest of Beijing, and the recently state-designated site of ‘Shangri-la’, the Tibetan frontier town of Zhongdian, located 270 miles north of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. A Buddhist pilgrimage destination since the fifth century, Mount Wutai in recent years has become a popular domestic tourist destination and, as of June 2009, an official site on the World Heritage list. The on-going development of this heritage site has included the forced displacement of approximately 5,000 residents, the reworking of local space, and what from a distance appears to be the commodification of a previously sacred space. Zhongdian, in contrast, was a relatively minor town on the Tibetan frontier until being identified as the ‘official’ site of the fictitious Shangri-La in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizons in 2001. In the past decade state resources have funded the construction of a Tibetan ‘old town’ and the promotion of the town as a tourist destination for Han Chinese. This study is based on field visits to Mount Wutai conducted during the summers of 2008 and 2009 and to Zhongdian in 2008, qualitative interviews with visitors, local merchants, and guides, and archival research. My research offers two broad findings. First, because different parts of ‘the state’ have different interests and responsibilities in both Mount Wutai and Zhongdian, including forest management, the preservation of temple sites, the regulation of religious practices, and tourism development, how tourism, heritage policies, and economic development interact remains a contested governmental question. Second, while these issues appear to leave little room for local interests, there appears to be less concern at the local level about cultural commodification than about gaining meaningful material gains from heritage and tourism promotion.

 

Salazar, Noel B.
University of Leuven
Title: Shifting Meanings and Economic Uses of Heritage: From Cultural (Re)appropriation to Tourism Interpretation and Back

The central region of the Indonesian island of Java is home to three world heritage sites, while four others are on UNESCO’s tentative list. Its internationally acclaimed and protected temples and palaces draw large crowds of domestic and foreign visitors, and offer a lucrative source of income for both the government and local tourism service providers. In 2006, when I was doing fieldwork on local tour guide practices around these monuments, a severe earthquake and several volcanic eruptions of Mt. Merapi struck the area. Many lives and homes were lost and some historical buildings badly damaged. In addition, the number of tourists drastically dropped. The ensuing economic crisis intensified existing conflicts over heritage appropriation and interpretation on local, national, regional, and global levels. Why, for instance, did the main complex of the Prambanan temples have to remain closed until international UNESCO experts showed up to assess the damage? Moreover, how to defend the pumping of large sums of overseas money into the restoration of “dead” pre-Islamic heritage when thousands of families had lost their houses? Based on extensive fieldwork, I use this particular Indonesian case study to explore ethnographically how translocal processes increasingly influence the local meanings of heritage – both in times of stability and of turmoil – but also how these “foreign” elements are incorporated and strategically (mis)used by locals in the heritage narratives told and sold to tourists. An in-depth analysis of the empirical findings leads to a broader reflection on the dynamic interplay between the externally imaged (represented) and locally imagined value and economic use of so-called “world” heritage in Indonesia and beyond. While much of the theorizing on cultural heritage has relied upon inherited or borrowed (Euro-American) conceptions and assumptions about what should be valued and privileged, this paper illustrates that the significance of heritage – be it natural or cultural, tangible or intangible – is characterized by ever-changing pluriversality. Heritage appropriation and interpretation are always enmeshed in complex webs of meaning, variously cherished and expressed by shareholders at different levels, and increasingly influenced by the shift in tourism from service to experience economies.

 

Alejandro J. Figueroa, Whitney Goodwin, and E. Christian Wells
University of South Florida
Title: Mayanizing Tourism in Roatán, Honduras: Archaeological Perspectives on Heritage, Development, and Indigeneity

Honduran historian Darío Euraque has used the term “Mayanization” to characterize the past century of tourism and development in Honduras in which many tour operators and business owners have capitalized on the geographic proximity of their “famous” neighbors, the Classic Maya, to name (and claim as “Maya”) everything from handicrafts to entire buildings. The island of Roatán off the north coast of Honduras has become increasingly “Mayanized” as heritage tourism has increased dramatically in the wake of new development opportunities for the island’s residents. The proliferation of Maya names for hotels, restaurants, and the like, and the recent construction of an outdoor interpretive center with reproductions of famous Maya monuments from the mainland, has opened up new conversations and conflicts about heritage and indigeneity on the island. As various stakeholders assert competing claims to being “indigenous,” few people agree on what the term means. And shifting meanings have become strategically relevant on the island as different groups vie for revenue from the expanding tourism industry. Our recent research on the island has collected archaeological, historical, and ethnographic data, which we are using to contextualize these dialogues and to understand their trajectory. Since the prehispanic occupants of the island were likely multilingual (Chibchan, Tolatecan, Misumalpan, and Mayan), and the centuries that followed brought Spanish, Dutch, and English settlers, as well as the establishment of the Garínagu (Garífuna) of mixed West African and Carib/Arawak descent, island residents have multiple claims to multiple identities. Over time, these complex arrangements of culture, power, and history have rendered notions and assertions to “first occupancy” problematic for understanding contemporary struggles for social and political-economic rights. Indigeneity and the island’s unique genealogy have also resulted in the large-scale destruction—in the name of development—of significant archaeological and historical remains that are central to these struggles. Our research documents some of these complexities and seeks to understand the long-term consequences of heritage tourism and indigeneity on cultural patrimony in Honduras.

 

Keely Maxwell
Franklin and Marshall College
Title: Tourism as Transaction: Commerce and Heritage on the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is represented by the tourism industry and state agencies as a hike through natural and cultural heritage. Thousands of foreign hikers descend on the trail each year for the experience of a lifetime. For villagers whose houses hikers pass by, however, the Inca Trail is a place for commerce, not heritage. They earn cash by selling sodas and candy to hikers and maize beer to porters. This economic activity is problematic for Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary officials, who perceive commerce as violating the trail’s heritage space. Officials claim, moreover, that locals are losing their indigenous heritage because of their excessive preoccupation with earning money. Anthropological approaches to tourism often focus on documenting tourism’s impacts on local cultures and economy or describing host-guest relations. In this paper, I invert heritage tourism to examine it from the perspective of Inca Trail villagers. They describe tourism as “when we sell things to people,” an interpretation that places them at the center, not received periphery, of tourism activities. I draw upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork on the Inca Trail to analyze how new forms and spaces of commerce have emerged from trail tourism. During these commercial exchanges, it is porters, not tourists, who are both consumers and guests. Trekkers, on the other hand, are at once consumer and harvestable resource. Hikers’ movement along the trail is akin to a salmon run, a one-way current with daily and seasonal ebbs and flows. I demonstrate how villagers allocate access to flows of hikers based on particular moralities of exchange space. Both competition and cooperation inform negotiations over vending space. The quest for cash has not supplanted moral economic principles such as reciprocity and redistribution. Instead, moral and monetary economies interdigitate in intriguing ways. Villagers buffer tourism transactions from their local economy by maintaining a dual price structure for goods and wages. Tourism entrepreneurship, meanwhile, depends on competition and innovation, as well as on ritual kinship and reciprocal exchanges with trekking companies. Women sell sodas in order to “educate our children,” an oft-used justification for vending that is both politically strategic and economically ambiguous. While more children do attend elementary and high school, young adults often wind up back on the trail, eking out a living from tourism. Inca Trail tourism has not caused villagers to lose their cultural and economic “heritage.” It is more aptly described as a no-impact phenomenon, in that it serves to reproduce internal social hierarchies and global political economic inequities.

 

Session Four: Global Tourisms and the Promise of Sustainability

 

Jan Mosedale
University of Sunderland
Title: Experiencing Alternative Economic Spaces: Wwoofing as Alternative Mobility

There is a world beyond the dominant capitalist tourism system where actors are mobile by engaging in alternative economic practices. The notion of a single economy is increasingly being contested and it is being recognised that ‘the economy’ is constituted of multiple social relations of exchange. These multiple economies have been neglected in current debates on tourism production and consumption. Furthermore, previous studies of alternative economies have centred on place-based and localised projects such as social and community economies (cf. Amin et al., 2002; Gibson-Graham, 2006; Leyshon et al., 2003), but neglected mobility as a crucial aspect of human society. This paper, therefore, positions mobility within alternative and diverse economies (Amin and Thrift, 2002; Gibson-Graham, 1996; Leyshon and Lee, 2003), in order to understand how social relations and relating experiences frame alternative economic approaches ‘on the move’. By analysing the practice of WWOOFing (Willingly working on organic farms) via autoethnography and semi-structured interviews with hosts and wwoofers, this paper examines the composition of ‘the economy’ in an increasingly mobile society and how mobile individuals negotiate multiple economies and experiences. The aim is therefore to move forward in our understanding of the cultural and socio-economic construction of alternative economic practices focusing primarily on the determination of value of the exchange relationship. It is important to emphasise that much of the attraction and popularity of Wwoofing lies in the complex interplay of unpredictability, alternative experiences, embeddedness in local culture, cheapness and the flexible and transient nature of the alternative system.

 

Laurie Medina
Michigan State University
Title: Ecotourism as Neoliberal Conservation: Using Markets for Nature to Produce Environmental Subjects in Belize

While some scholars view ecotourism as a form of alternative tourism with potential for making tourism more environmentally sustainable, this paper approaches ecotourism as a neoliberal strategy to fund conservation. In this view, ecotourism provides a mechanism for making conservation economically sustainable. During the 1980s, in Belize as elsewhere, national and transnational conservationist NGOs intensified lobbying efforts to convince the state to protect the nation’s rich forest, wetland, mangrove, and reef ecosystems. However, the Belizean state was committed to converting forested lands to export agriculture as a primary economic development strategy. Conservationists used the context of debt crisis to argue that the creation of protected areas would attract greater numbers of tourists to Belize, dramatically increasing the revenues generated by the nation’s fledgling tourism industry and diversifying the economy beyond agro-exports. In response, the state placed more than 40% of the country’s landmass under protection, declared a number of marine reserves, and sought designation of its barrier reef as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, since the debt-burdened Belizean state was undergoing structural adjustment, it was unable to enforce the restrictions on farming, hunting, fishing, and collecting involved in protected areas conservation. Environmentalist NGOs asserted that ecotourism would also generate revenues to pay for protected areas management, tapping Northern markets for nature rather than state coffers. Further, they argued that revenues generated by ecotourism would provide compensation and a stake in conservation to resource-dependent rural communities who lost access to subsistence resources with the creation of protected areas. This paper examines the forms of environmental government that emerged as Belizeans deployed ecotourism to combine conservation and development priorities. The study incorporated staff from departments and ministries of the Belizean state with responsibilities for protecting and developing Belizean natural resources, personnel from Belizean and transnational conservation NGOs engaged in implementing conservation and ecotourism initiatives, and the residents of three Maya communities involved in three different conservation-and-development initiatives. In these initiatives, two neoliberal strategies – de-statization and marketization — shifted responsibility for managing the environment from state to non-state actors within and beyond Belize: Northern markets for nature, conservation NGOs, and rural communities near protected areas. Environmentalists hoped that revenues generated through participation in markets for nature would enable both state officials and rural villagers to recognize the economic value of conservation; they hoped this recognition would subsequently foster appreciation for the ecological value of protected areas. However, the adoption of ecotourism as a conservation funding strategy also subjected conservation NGOs themselves to markets for nature. This paper examines the ways that markets for nature disciplined and directed the activities of all three groups of actors: state officials, conservation NGO personnel, and Maya villagers. It also assesses the different outcomes of the three conservation and development initiatives and the role of markets for nature in shaping those outcomes.

 

Amy E. Chan
Arizona State University
Title: Reconstructing Touristic Consumption within the Southwest: Native American Eco-Art and a Dialectical Exchange on Sustainability

The Southwest has been a center for Native American cultural tourism since the nineteenth century. In this paper, I address how contemporary Native American artists in the Southwest are utilizing the genre of eco-art to reshape the touristic experience. In particular, I examine the questions of what are the intended messages of these ecological works of art and to whom are the messages addressed. Examining the issue of environmental sustainability through the lens of eco-art opens the possibility of a multi-sited approach to the study of the effects of global concepts of “green” on tourism. Specifically, I examine how apparently local indigenous artworks can have repercussions that extend beyond the gallery into cultural and political discussions about the environment which ultimately shape how tourists experience the Southwest. For purposes of this paper, I limit the eco-art examined to artists involved with Native Confluence: Sustaining Cultures an exhibit held at Arizona State University during the fall of 2009. To develop arguments for this paper, I rely on data collected through interviews with artists, a site visit to the Canelo Project, participation in hands-on construction of Native Confluence, visual analysis of works of art and textual analysis of artist writings and websites in addition to promotional materials for the Southwest. To understand how ecological works of art operate within a broader economy of tourism, I draw on regional and national data from a variety of published sources. I explore the following three components of the causes and effects of Native American eco-art on cultural tourism. First, Native artists who create eco-works express their long-standing connection to the land, as well as local and generational worldviews of sustainable living, through the representation and use of organic materials such as clay, adobe, dirt and stone. Second, these artists reject historical and contemporary commodification of Native identity by creating eco-art which cannot be easily circulated or consumed in the tourist economy. Third, through active engagement in dialectical socio-political relationships, Native artists position themselves as having free-agent identities with the ability to project their own perspectives on cultural knowledge and sustainability. Thus, through the medium of Native American eco-art, the landscape of southwest cultural tourism is being actively reshaped into a message about art, culture and politics surrounding sustainable living.

 

Fernanda de Vasconcellos Pêgas
Amanda Stronza
Texas A&M University
Title: Economic Benefits from Sea Turtle Ecotourism and Sea Turtle Harvesting in the Fishing Village of Praia do Forte, Brazil

Many environmentalists believe ecotourism has the potential to generate net benefits for people and nature. For more than twenty-five years, the Brazilian Sea Turtle Conservation Program (TAMAR) implements ecotourism in the fishing village of Praia do Forte, Brazil. Through ecotourism, TAMAR hopes to gain local support for sea turtle conservation and reduce harvesting of sea turtles and their eggs. Ecotourism at TAMAR provides employment opportunities and income alternatives to residents of Praia do Forte and residents from adjacent villages. In this article we evaluate the relationships between sea turtle conservation and ecotourism at TAMAR. Data was collected during nine months of ethnographic research, between 2006 and 2008. We interviewed residents who worked with TAMAR and residents who were employed at other local jobs outside TAMAR. Our data shows that the average income of respondents who worked with TAMAR was lower than the average reported by respondents who did not work with TAMAR. Despite lower income, our data also suggest that ecotourism-related employment and income provided by TAMAR have been somewhat reliable and stable. Respondents stated that non-economic benefits (e.g. long-term ties with the TAMAR; cultural exchange with visitors) influenced their perceptions about and decisions to work at TAMAR despite lower salaries. Although the majority of respondents supported sea turtle conservation and enjoyed working with TAMAR, it is unclear whether non-economic benefits and economic stability of ecotourism will be sufficient incentives to keep residents working for or pursuing engagement with TAMAR if other similar employment opportunities become available to them. Villagers may be increasingly inclined to look for work outside of TAMAR as the cost of living increases, predominantly as result of the fast growing mass coastal tourism development around the village. Most households in this study relied on multiple sources of income to support their livelihoods. Coastal development is also attracting new immigrants, making it difficult and more challenging for local residents to protect sea turtles. Despite TAMAR’s conservation efforts, some respondents stated that sea turtle harvesting persists in Praia do Forte. Ongoing sea turtle harvesting suggests that economic incentives appear an insufficient conservation measure. It is still unclear why economic benefits from sea turtle ecotourism create conservation incentives for some in the community but not others. These socioeconomic trends challenge the notion that economic incentives from ecotourism for local residents alone will ensure conservation. Further research is needed to understand the conditions under which ecotourism may foster long-term conservation in the face of larger developments surrounding community ecotourism projects.