Hotel Bauen: Consumer Tourism and the Cooperative

Summer 2006

Zoe Wilen Brent : Peace and Conflict Studies

Mentor: Michael Watts, Geography

The growing cooperative movement in Argentina, emerging out of the economic crisis of 2001, presents an interesting opportunity to study the ways in which the cooperative is modeled and understood in the context of a capitalist economy. For two months I will look at the model put forth by the four-star Hotel Bauen. Specifically, I will examine how the cooperative is understood and how that understanding is affecting and affected by the consumer tourist market to which it caters. To this end, I will conduct a series of interviews and surveys to understand the effects of the relatively new cooperative structure of the hotel on the type of clientele that it attracts. As well as the ways that cooperativism as a practice and an ideology is shaped by the necessary commodification of its enterprise in order to secure a niche in a consumer tourist market.

My research in Buenos Aires this summer is an exciting opportunity to experience the dynamics of a growing cooperative movement, learn how to do fieldwork and meet and learn from motivated individuals in a culture different than my own. This project is therefore, not only a chance to discover answers to my research questions, but also it is an opportunity to interact with professors, academics, professionals and people in a field that interests me.