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Authors: Kreutter, Nicole
Advisors: Kreike, Emmanuel
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: This thesis explores the question of authenticity in ecotourism – that is, the genuine engagement with its values of environmental and community well-being as mechanized through a capitalistic commodification of nature. Its goal is to interrogate the roles of elite partners in creating an enabling environment for community agency. It employs scholarly literature that looks at the potential for symbiotic conservation and development, specifically at the community level, and a qualitative case study of Namibia’s “community-based natural resource management” (CBNRM) program. My assessment of Namibia’s CBNRM program upholds current literature’s emphasis on community participation to ensure that ecotourism does not perpetrate environmental injustices against locals. However, I argue that this alone is not sufficient to avert neo-colonial elite domination in conservation and development paradigms. Community agency, through devolved authority and capacity building, is required to expand local well-being onto a broader scale such that communities are able to impact their national paradigms. I establish, drawing especially on my interviews, the interdependent roles of civil society, private industry, and the state in creating an enabling environment – both in policy and in concrete processes – for this agency. The policy implications from this finding are rooted in the necessity of continual program support from these elite partners. Capitalism may mechanize ecotourism and, through it, rural development, but the state especially needs to be reintroduced as the defender of community agency to prevent neo-colonial elite domination.
Extent: 127 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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