"Little Boxes" on the Beachfront
My research explores the relationships between environmental politics, development, and human-environment interactions in the Dominican Republic. My interest in this topic was sparked by a conversation I had with a local fisherman in the Jaragua National Park, Pedernales. When asked if he would abandon his land near the sea if he were offered money, he replied, chuckling, "If they gave me a million pesos I would." This conversation led me to begin questioning people's relationships with the land and natural environment, and how certain conservation discourses and projects benefit from the marginalized positions of people in targeted areas. My ethnographic fieldwork focuses on Pedernales and La Ci√©naga, two municipalities in the Dominican southwest. Taken in July 2011, this photograph captures a neat, uniform row of colorfully painted bungalows representative of the political and economic processes at work. Fishing families living in caves near Cabo Rojo beach were relocated into these houses built by the state. The presence of the fishermen in the caves was considered unsightly and threatening to ecotourists. While their homes now have a pleasant appearance, fishing families complain that they still have little access to potable water and are no longer able to plant subsistence crops because these, too, are thought to disrupt the landscape.