Doctoral Dissertation Research: Anderson: Political Ecologies of Value: Tourism & Social Conflict in Baja California Sur, Mexico

Grants and Contracts Details


Intellectual Merit The proposed research makes contributions to anthropological conversations about value, tourism development, political ecology, and the social production of space. This research will provide a rich, ethnographically-informed case study of the processes through which competing social groups produce value in tourism development contexts, drawing primarily upon the value theories of Kluckhohn (1958), Graeber (2001), Elyachar (2005), and Appadurai (1986). In addition, drawing upon the work of anthropologists, human geographers, and political ecologists (e.g. Low 1996; 2003; Gregory 2007; Zhang 2001, 2006; Harvey 1996; Smith 2008; Massey 2005; Soja 2010; Peet and Watts 1996; McGregor 2004) this project explores the complex connections between the social production of value and the ways in which people use, understand, exploit, and shape the geographic and ecological spaces in which they live (see West 2005; Graeber 2001; Elyachar 2005). One of the fundamental issues this research highlights is how tensions between economic values (market-based development) and moral/cultural values (e.g. ethics about conservation; moral and historical claims to land and resources) feed into the intense social and political conflicts that pervade global tourism development (see Honey and Krantz 2007). This unique combination of political economic, political ecological, anthropological, and geographic perspectives will provide valuable insights into the persistent challenges and contradictions that plague international tourism development (e.g. land dispossession, environmental degradation, disputes over water, conflicts over access to land, and the contested politics of commodification and privatization). Broader Impacts In addition to contributing to the academic development of a PhD student, this research will foster a collaborative relationship between scholars in the United States and Mexico. Through joint research and interaction with affiliates at UABCS in Baja California Sur, the proposed research will contribute to the creation of a bi-national academic relationship and capacity building that can begin to address some of the complex problems associated with tourism development throughout Mexico. Additionally, since this case study at Cabo Cortes exhibits many of the persistent problems in global tourism development (e.g. dispossession, conflicts over resources, environmental degradation, privatization), the importance of this project extends far beyond Mexico (see Honey 2008; Honey and Krantz 2007; Klein 2007; van Noorloos 2011). Ultimately, this research will contribute to policy interventions and academic discussions that can address recurrent socio-economic and political problems of tourism development projects at a global scale. Research findings will be shared with multiple audiences through the publication of a dissertation, public lectures, a documentary photography installation, academic articles, and the creation of a collaborative website that explores the diverse social histories, values, and meanings of the East Cape.
Effective start/end date7/15/126/30/14


  • National Science Foundation: $12,188.00


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