Coercive conservation and indigenous dispossession (ecoturism as settler colonialism): Conservation by racialized dispossession: Christopher Anthony Loperena, ‘The making of an eco-destination on Honduras’s North Coast’, Geoforum, 2015
Abstract: Within the context of neoliberal conservation and ecotourism development, the Honduran state has prioritized the desires of foreign tourists and private investors over the needs of indigenous and black coastal inhabitants, and increasingly this is leading to state-sanctioned violence against marginalized groups. I use Peluso’s analytic of coercive conservation (1993) to show how conservation practice furthers the expansionist policies of the state and elite investors while simultaneously dehumanizing the indigenous peoples that depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. While Garífuna culture is central to Honduras’s ecotourism ambitions, their livelihoods, in the eyes of many developers and conservation NGOs, are a potential threat to the viability of the emerging tourism imaginary. Black and indigenous coastal inhabitants are valued for the cultural cache they add to regional tourism plans, yet denigrated for their inherent “backwardness” and presumed inability to respect the delicate ecosystems they inhabit. This imaginary authorizes material practices of racialized dispossession, which were set in motion by neoliberal conservation regimes designed to exploit the natural and cultural resources upon which tourism development is premised.
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