Event Title

All You Need is Ecuador: The Collective Marketing of a Place and its People

Presenter Information

Liam McLean, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A247

Start Date

10-28-2016 3:30 PM

End Date

10-28-2016 4:50 PM

Abstract

The purpose of the ethnographic research project was 1) to describe the ideology and practice of turismo comunitario in two fishing communities on the coast of Ecuador’s Manabí province, 2) to understand the ways in which various local agents perceive, navigate, and actively create a regional tourism industry, and 3) to examine how the beliefs and behavior of tourists influence ideologies and processes of touristic development. The study heeds Stronza’s (2001) call for anthropological analyses that focus more seriously on host communities as active participants in tourism. The project utilized both participant observation and ethnographic interview, and embraced a reflexive approach which scrutinized the researcher’s subjectivity and construed the ethnographer as a kind of tourist. The research findings reveal the ways in which local agents imagine investment in touristic development as a project of self-improvement to create a community more appealing to outsiders. These findings raise a central question that is broadly relevant to the study of touristic development in so-called “developing” nations: how do host communities, on the one hand, and tourists, on the other, express agency in the context of power imbalances between the “first” and the “third” world? Ultimately, I suggest that local actors exercise considerable agency in touristic development, and caution against analyses that regard “third-world” communities as powerless victims of larger economic forces. Ortner’s (2006) analytic of “serious games” informs my understanding of agency as the expression of intentions that emerge from the unequal power relations that structure people’s lives.

Notes

Session II, Panel 6 - Culture & Place

Major

Anthropology; Creative Writing

Project Mentor(s)

Michael Harris, Anthropology and Philosophy, Florida Atlantic University

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Oct 28th, 3:30 PM Oct 28th, 4:50 PM

All You Need is Ecuador: The Collective Marketing of a Place and its People

Science Center A247

The purpose of the ethnographic research project was 1) to describe the ideology and practice of turismo comunitario in two fishing communities on the coast of Ecuador’s Manabí province, 2) to understand the ways in which various local agents perceive, navigate, and actively create a regional tourism industry, and 3) to examine how the beliefs and behavior of tourists influence ideologies and processes of touristic development. The study heeds Stronza’s (2001) call for anthropological analyses that focus more seriously on host communities as active participants in tourism. The project utilized both participant observation and ethnographic interview, and embraced a reflexive approach which scrutinized the researcher’s subjectivity and construed the ethnographer as a kind of tourist. The research findings reveal the ways in which local agents imagine investment in touristic development as a project of self-improvement to create a community more appealing to outsiders. These findings raise a central question that is broadly relevant to the study of touristic development in so-called “developing” nations: how do host communities, on the one hand, and tourists, on the other, express agency in the context of power imbalances between the “first” and the “third” world? Ultimately, I suggest that local actors exercise considerable agency in touristic development, and caution against analyses that regard “third-world” communities as powerless victims of larger economic forces. Ortner’s (2006) analytic of “serious games” informs my understanding of agency as the expression of intentions that emerge from the unequal power relations that structure people’s lives.