Jason A. Douglas* - CUNY Graduate Center
The contemporary social and political concern over extractive industries and environmental issues more broadly has become increasingly global. Narratives from marginalized communities in the global south are becoming ever more important in the movement for justice, environmental as much as social. These narratives have been increasingly harnessed in private and state initiatives calling for environmental protection efforts that point to sustainable alternatives, such as sustainable tourism. The resonance of these voices call for the development of a more differentiated and nuanced conceptualization of how sustainable tourism projects are formed, experienced, and understood by people that live in and around target areas. This paper examines the political ecology of sustainable tourism in the bauxite rich Cockpit Country of west central Jamaica. Working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), USAID, the Forestry Department of Jamaica's Ministry of Agriculture (FDJ), and Cockpit Country residents, I conducted in-depth field work to examine the alternatives to the environmentally destructive practices currently employed in Cockpit Country communities and the bauxite mining proposed by the Aluminum Company of America in the area. I draw on Neil Smith's (1984) theoretical view of uneven development as the "geographical expression" of the unequal distribution of nature and Arturo Escobar's (2008) theoretical framework for understanding sustainable development. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper focuses on the operations of and concerns raised by various alternatives to bauxite mining and the implementation of these alternatives. As such, this paper works to re-frame sustainable tourism in the context of justice, equity, and governance.