Environmental Anthropology in Costa Rica

Environmental Anthropology in Costa Rica

May 12-June 4, 2013

ANTH/GEOG 4275/6275:  Communities, Conservation & Development on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast
ANTH 4900/6900: 
The Anthropology of Surfing



Course Description: ANTH/GEOG 4275/6275 – Communities, Conservation & Development on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

Over the last few decades Costa Rica has come to be recognized globally as an icon of successful conservation.  In the process, conservation and the tourism associated with it have made major contributions to the Costa Rican economy.  However, Costa Rica now faces a number of challenges that threaten to undermine the progress it has made.  In coastal areas in particular, rapid development is affecting both ecosystems and local community livelihoods.

This course will focus on the affects of coastal development on both conservation and local communities in Guanacaste Province.  During the program we will travel to a number of national parks and reserves along the coast.  We will also visit sites of rapid coastal development – resorts, large housing tracts and gated communities.  In the process we will meet with people representing different viewpoints on trends in coastal development.  Course assignments will focus on integrating what you are learning experientially with literature on the anthropology and political ecology of conservation and development.

Course Topics: ANTH/GEOG 4275/6275

1.      Introduction to Communities, Conservation and Development on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

2.      Conservation in Costa Rica

3.      Mangroves and Shrimp Aquaculture

4.      Political Ecology of Conservation and Development

5.      Exurbanization and Coastal Development

6.      Tourism and Ecotourism

7.      Sea Turtle Conservation

8.      Local Communities and Conservation

9.      Local Knowledge and Conservation Management

10.  Marketing Costa Rica

11.  Conservation and the Politics of Knowledge

12.  Ecology of Golf

13.  Conservation in Santa Rosa National Park

14.  Incorporating Landscape History in Conservation Planning and Implementation

15.  Connectivity and Restoration


Course Description: ANTH 4900/6900 – The Anthropology of Surfing

Surfing is simultaneously a sport, a lifestyle, and an iconic part of American popular culture.  It is also an ideal lens for analyzing a range of contemporary cultural processes associated with globalization.  This course will introduce you to surfing as a globalizing cultural phenomenon.  We will begin by learning about the history of surfing, particularly as it has become increasingly internationalized in recent decades.  We will also focus on a range of specific topics: surf culture and the idea of lifestyle, the production of recreational spaces, branding and the commodification of surfing, surf tourism, surfing and gender, localism and travel, surf knowledge, contest culture, and more.

This course will emphasize an ethnographic approach to the study of surfing.  During our time in Costa Rica we will be traveling to multiple locations where surfing is a dominant activity, and we will be interacting on a daily basis with surfers from Costa Rica, the US and elsewhere.  Through both guided observations and daily encounters, we will document our experiences through a series of written and visual assignments.

Course Topics: ANTH 4900/6900

1.      Introduction to the Anthropology of Surfing

2.      Sustainable Surf Tourism

3.      Doing Collaborative Ethnographic Research

4.      The History of Surfing

5.      Surf Culture and the Idea of Lifestyle

6.      Making Surf Breaks: The Production of Recreational Space

7.      Branding and the Commodification of Surfing

8.      Women in the Line-up: Surfing and Gender

9.      Surf Knowledge

10.  The Contradictions of Surf Culture: Localism and Travel

11.  Soul Surfing and Contest Culture

12.  Next Steps in the Collaborative Ethnographic Analysis of Surfing

13.  Discussion of Findings in Ethnography of Surfing


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