Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Elena P. Bastidas

Second Advisor

Claire M. Rice

Third Advisor

Toran Hansen

Abstract

This research is situated in the community of Vilcabamba in the province of Loja, Ecuador. Vilcabamba is a small village in the southern Andes of Ecuador, approximately 28 miles (45km) from Loja city. Many people were drawn to the area because of stories they heard about people there living to be over 100 years old. Books and articles have been written in attempts to establish the veracity of these claims and to explore why the people of Vilcabamba are living so long. This dissertation is a qualitative case study that explores how the recent surge of tourism and immigration in Vilcabamba is impacting the people and sustainable way of life of the village and its surrounding communities. Through gender analysis the study also explores if tourism and immigration are affecting men and women differently and the way that women respond to this impact. The literature review provides different lenses to understand what types of conflicts and opportunities are present in the area and how these conflicts affect the livelihood strategies of the locals. The methodological approach of this research is case study analysis, which explored what is happening to the people of the Vilcabamba community and their land. To explore this phenomenon, I used certain methods developed by ethnographers, such as field observation. The study is based on the experiences of four women living in poverty from the local community of Vilcabamba. I wanted to understand the vulnerabilities that exist for them. I explored the livelihood strategies of women in their everyday lives. The use of the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework assisted me in understanding the concepts of assets and vulnerabilities. This research is expected to contribute to the field of conflict analysis and resolution by elucidating the relationship between gender and tourism in Vilcabamba. It will bring awareness to the issues women experience that keep them rooted in poverty. An exploration of how other communities have met and overcome the challenges of tourism and colonization is presented and the final outcome suggests possible resolutions for social change.

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