Nicaraguan Agroecology: Networking between the North and South

Summer 2010

Briana Robertori : Anthropology, Interdisciplinary Studies Field

Mentor: Renate Holub, Interdisciplinary Studies Field

For 10 weeks, I will be living up the mountainous rural coffee growing area of Matagalpa, Nicaragua studying the tourism that I myself will be a part of.  I will be studying how the UCA San Ramon coffee cooperative’s “agroeco-tourism” project is affecting the families and communities of the mostly female tourist hosts. To survey both the positive and negative effects, I will be distributing a questionnaire to all of the forty host mothers, or alojadoras.  I will also be conducting between eight and ten filmed interviews with alojadoras, tourist guides, community members, and one interview with the director to assess the tourism project’s historical impact.  When I return to Berkeley, I will make a documentary for my Anthropology honors thesis.

On a study abroad program called Rethinking Globalization, I spent ten months traveling through Tanzania, India, New Zealand, and Mexico, staying in every type of setting, from farms and tents to nice hotels. On this wide spectrum of lodgings, “home stays,” were always a startling experience for me ever since my first home stay in a tiny Zanzibar village found me sleeping in the only cement room when most houses were made of mud, leaves, and sticks. This experience led me to ask: What type of relationships are created by this tourist-host structure? What does rural tourism mean for the host communities? Is this a ‘sustainable’ form of tourism, and who is benefitting most? My research will look at how rural, agrarian areas can use tourism to secure their economies and livelihoods.