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Contradictions in Tourism

The Promise and Pitfalls of Ecotourism as a Manifold Capitalist Fix

Robert Fletcher and Katja Neves

This article reviews an interdisciplinary literature exploring the relationship between tourism and capitalism focused on ecotourism in particular. One of this literature's most salient features is to highlight ecotourism's function in employing capitalist mechanisms to address problems of capitalist development itself by attempting to resolve a series of contradictions intrinsic to the accumulation process, including: economic stagnation due to overaccumulation (time/space x); growing inequality and social unrest (social x); limitations on capital accumulation resulting from ecological degradation (environmental x); a widespread sense of alienation between humans and nonhuman natures; and a loss of “enchantment“ due to capitalist rationalization. Hence, widespread advocacy of ecotourism as a “panacea“ for diverse social and environmental ills can be interpreted as an implicit endorsement of its potential as a manifold capitalist x as well. The article concludes by outlining a number of possible directions for future research suggested by this review.

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Kathleen Lowrey, Eben Kirksey, Julie Velásquez Runk, Jessica O'Reilly, Melissa Checker, Juliana Essen, Rebecca Mari Meuninck, Jason Roberts, Yu Huang, James H. McDonald, Wendy R. Townsend, Robert Fletcher, Megan Tracy and E.N. Anderson

BLASER, Mario, Storytelling Globalization from the Chaco and Beyond

HALVERSON, Anders, An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World

HECKLER, Serena, Landscape, Process, and Power: Re-Evaluating Traditional Environmental Knowledge

HELMREICH, Stefan, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas

HOLIFIELD, Ryan, Michael PORTER, and Gordon WALKER, eds., Spaces of Environmental Justice

LANSING, J. Stephen, Perfect Order: Recognizing Complexity in Bali

LYON, Sarah, and Mark MOBERG, eds., Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies

MARSH, Kevin R., Drawing Lines in the Forest: Creating Wilderness in the Pacific Northwest

MUSCOLINO, Micah S., Fishing Wars and Environmental Change in Late Imperial and Modern China

PERRAMOND, Eric P., Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico: Private Revolutions

RINGHOFER, Lisa, Fishing, Foraging and Farming in the Bolivian Amazon: On a Local Society in Transition

SCHELHAS, John, and Max J. PFEFFER, Saving Forests, Protecting People? Environmental Conservation in Central America

TRUBEK, Amy B., The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir

VAYDA, Andrew P., Explaining Human Actions and Environmental Changes

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SherriLynn Colby-Bottel, Joshua Reno, Tal Liron, Genevieve Lakier, Andrew Tarter, Adam Henne, Joseph Doyle Hankins, Peter Rudiak-Gould, Sharla Blank, J. Stephen Lansing, Alaka Wali, John Wagner, David Zurick, Robert Fletcher and Brian Grabbatin

BUTTON, Gregory, Disaster Culture: Knowledge and Uncertainty in the Wake of Human and Environmental Catastrophe

FALASCA-ZAMPONI, Simonetta, Waste and Consumption: Capitalism, the Environment, and the Life of Things

FIJN, Natasha, Living with Herds: Human-Animal Coexistence in Mongolia

GUNERATNE, Arjun, ed., Culture and the Environment in the Himalaya

HASTRUP, Frida, Weathering the World: Recovery in the Wake of the Tsunami in a Tamil Fishing Village

JOHNSTON, Barbara Rose, ed., Life and Death Matters: Human Rights, Environment and Social Justice

KIRBY, Peter Wynn, Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan

MCADAM, Jane. ed., Climate Change and Displacement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

MENZIES, Charles R., Red Flags and Lace Coiff es: Identity and Survival in a Breton Village

MORAN, Emilio F., Environmental Social Science: Human-Environment Interactions and Sustainability

NEWING, Helen, Conducting Research in Conservation: A Social Science Perspective

PARR, Joy, Sensing Changes: Technologies, Environments, and the Everyday, 1953–2003

RADEMACHER, Anne M., Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu

RUTHERFORD, Stephanie, Governing the Wild: Ecotours of Power

WALKER, Peter A. and Patrick T. HURLEY, Planning Paradise: Politics and Visioning of Land Use in Oregon