Welcome to a new season of online seminars. For those of you who are new to them, these last for 10-12 days. A paper is posted on the OAC Press site, in this case here, where it may be read in html or pdf format. After the seminar, we produce an e-publication with a link to the discussion included. The pace of the seminar is leisurely. There is time to read, reflect and respond to comments made by others. There is a chair who launches and moderates the discussion.
Ryan Anderson is long-standing member of and contributor to the OAC. He is a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Kentucky. His research focuses on the politics of development and tourism in Baja California Sur, Mexico. He is the editor of a collaborative online project anthropologies and blogs at ethnografix, as well as contributing to the collective anthropology blog, Savage Minds (For examples related to this paper, see this link, and this one). Ryan first encountered Baja California Sur in 2005 and is currently seeking funds to carry out his doctoral research there.
The present paper explores the historical background to a proposed study of political disputes over the value of large-scale tourism development in Baja California Sur. It starts with a review of anthropological discussions of value — focusing on the work of Kluckhohn, Graeber, Elyachar and Appadurai. The aim is to use an anthropological approach to value to place current conflicts over land and resources arising from recent developments within a historical perspective. The paper then investigates how actors in different time periods have contributed to collective and often contradictory constructions of the area as a place of subsistence, adventure, possibilities, salvation, investment, leisure and conflict. It is not a report on the contemporary situation, but rather it examines some of the key moments and events that have in the past created, reshaped, and defined Baja California Sur as a place of value, meaning, and importance. These episodes start with the Spanish contact period and focus primarily on the southern portion of the peninsula.