Tourism and Cultural Change in Costa Rica

Tourism and Cultural Change in Costa Rica : Pitfalls and Possibilities

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This book examines the consequences-positive, negative, and otherwise-of tourism in Costa Rica. Based on ethnographic research and interviews with tourists, tour operators, tourists-turned-settlers, and locals living in tourist destinations, this book brings together these varied perspectives with the aim of presenting forms of tourism beneficial to all parties. To examine both pitfalls and positive outcomes of tourism, it compares modes of tourism in destinations that are locally owned and foreign owned, ecotourism destinations, beach tourism, adventure tourism sites, and agrotourism projects. Furthermore, the author draws from two decades of research in two distinct communities to trace the ways in which the development of tourism in one community provided the springboard for changing gender roles and new opportunities for women, and, in the other, how the promise of tourism has spurred a cultural revitalization and positive change in Indigenous identity. Interviews with three generations of women in one tourist destination show generational changes in perspectives on tourism, and interviews covering the same time span show how in an Indigenous reservation poised to enter the heritage tourism industry, tourism offers a positive alternative to exploitative forms of labor and the stigma once associated with Indigeneity in that region. Interviews with locals in all four sites reveal the ways in which tourism carried out conscientiously would benefit them. These, juxtaposed with interviews of tourists regarding what they seek through tourism, offer a means of designing a mutually beneficial form of tourism. In sum, this book puts into conversation the varied views of those positioned differently within the realm of tourism in order to inform tourists and foreign land owners as to how they might glean the advantages that such an experience may bring to the traveler, while also playing up the benefits of these endeavors to local communities, and minimizing the potential damage these practices may more

Product details

  • Paperback | 330 pages
  • 151.38 x 229.62 x 24.89mm | 498.95g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0739140221
  • 9780739140222

Review quote

"Based on nearly two decades of field research in Costa Rica, Karen Stocker explores a range of tourism projects in that country-from indigenous attempts to 'brand' their unique cultural traditions, to eco-tourism, to resorts appealing to both Costa Rican clientele and international tourists. Stocker provides a much more nuanced tourism analysis than most studies. She navigates the complexities of both the benefits (achieved and potential) vs. the negative impacts of tourism and shows the multiplex ways in which the providers and consumers respond to these complexities. She concludes by offering recommendations by which the various participants might practice a 'responsible tourism.'" -- Karl H. Schwerin, The University of New Mexico, PhD "Here is a fascinating, unpredictable, and deeply honest story about the tourism industry in Costa Rica. Building on two decades of ethnographic research and hundreds of interviews with tourists, locals, business owners, and expats, Stocker shares compelling and often surprising stories of how tourism has both delivered and disappointed on many promises. She has a talent for seeing all sides and helping us see them too. The pages come alive with the voices and views of real people who have real stakes in Costa Rican tourism. The result is the most balanced and insightful 'anthropology of tourism' I've seen." -- Amanda Stronza, Texas A&M University "This excellent book provides a multi-dimensional assessment of the impacts-positive and negative, subtle and shocking-of tourism in Costa Rica. Based on in-depth interviews and years of personal observations in Costa Rica, Karen Stocker weaves a rich and complex mosaic of how both "hosts" and "guests" are experiencing the tidal wave of tourism that has hit Costa Rica over the last quarter century. Stocker puts a human face on international tourism, building her analysis on the voices and views of Costa Ricans from indigenous and rural poor to workers, youth, and elite. She also puts a face on outsiders: long time foreign residents, newer arrivals, and various types of tourists, from eco- to adventure to sun-and-sand." -- Martha Honey, Co-founder of the Center for Responsible Travelshow more

About Karen Stocker

Karen Stocker is assistant professor of anthropology at California State University, Fullerton. Her publications include Historias Matambuguenas (1995) and "I Won't Stay Indian, I'll Keep Studying": Race, Place, and Discrimination in a Costa Rican High School (2005).show more

Table of contents

Revised Table of Contents: Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Methodological Considerations An Anthropologist, a Quaker, and Porn Star Walk Into a Bar: Participant Observation Interviews An Invitation to Insight: Methodological Insights and Considerations of Objectivity Metiche Anthropology, "Characters," and Contributions. Engaged Anthropology Ethical Considerations and Consent A Globalized Context for Localized Research Chapter 3: Community Portraits: Two Beach Towns Playa del Carmen: A "Locally-Owned" Beach Town Who Counts as a Local: Costa Rican-Foreigner Interaction and Perceptions On Locals and Outsiders: Varied Labels Expat Experiences Segregated Spaces Persistence of Local Culture Tourism-Related Changes: Cost of Living, Corruption, and Water Playa Extranjera: A Foreign-Owned Beach Town Locals: All or Nothing Changing Populations and Foreign Locals' Experiences Drugs, Prostitution, and Development "Feels Like Home": Catering to Foreigners Overdevelopment, Water, and Tico Resistance Chapter 4: Nambue, The Chorotega Reservation: Portrait of a Community on the Cusp of Tourism Indigeneity in Flux: The Reservation's History Changing Indigenous Identities: From Shame to Pride Tourism as a Motivator for Revitalization of Tradition and Chorotega Customs Maintained Witchcraft and Oral Tradition Globalization and More Recent Concerns Division and Unity: Community Life in the Reservation Community Changes Land Rights, Water, and Community Concerns Chapter 5: Montanosa, The Rainforest Community "Facets of a Diamond": Official Histories of Montanosa Who Counts as a Local: Complex Categories Quaker Comments on Local Belonging: Language and Community Tico Perceptions of Quakers Conservation and Religious Philosophy Enacted Social Integration Segregated Spaces The Effects of Change Changing Economies: From Farming to Tourism From Ecotourism to Adventure Tourism and their Respective Clientele The Commission System and Competition Among Businesses From Agriculture to Tourism and Back Again Community Concerns and the Downsides of Tourism: Water Issues, Drugs, Prostitution The Larger Context Chapter 6: "The Cows Will Be Your University!": Positive Effects of Tourism Changing Gender Roles "Art Has Been Like a Medicine for Us" The Jam Revolution: A Second Women's Cooperative Dancing While Washing the Clothes New Challenges for the Cooperative Positive Effects of Tourism Jobs and Education, Broadly Defined Infrastructure Cross-Cultural Understanding Conservation Chapter 7: Negative Effects of Tourism Drug Trade and Abuse What Happens in Vegas... Prostitution Sex Tourism and Romance Tourism: Variations on a Theme? Muddying the Waters. How "Eco" is Ecotourism? Additional Concerns The Trade-Offs of Tourism Chapter 8: Performing Local Life on the Reservation "Patenting the Pueblo": A Trademark for Tradition Tourism, the Commodification of Culture, and Authenticating Cultural Practices From Stigma to Economic Value Chorotega TM: Local Products Symbolizing Indigeneity. Media and Other Influences Ownership of Tradition through Corporate Strategy Local Disputes over Cultural Ownership Local Festivals and Culture Performed for Insiders Insiders and Outsiders. A Relative Matter Obstacles to the Trademark Performing Indigeneity in the Reservation Chapter 9: Performing Identity in the Other Communities of Study Heritage Tourism and Authenticity Branding Nature Performing Local Life Scripted Lives and Sanitized Tours Sustainability, Locally-Owned, Organic, Fair Trade, and Family-Owned: Marketable Labels Bob Marley in Costa Rica Parallel Performances Marketing the Nation Performance of Identity among Tourists and Others Chapter 10: Sanitized Tours of Exploitable Work Zones. The Nexus of Tourism and Its Alternatives "Learning to Walk through Mud Without Getting Muddy": Bananera Memories Chapter 11: Striking a Balance: Possibilities for Responsible Tourism Recommendations for Tourists Recommendations to Potential Expatriates or Foreign Residents Advice from Expats for Expats Recommendations for Costa Rican Towns or the National Government Trade-Offs, Revisitedshow more

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