Research approach, case selection and analytical framework

Research approach

For the purpose of this book I have used both primary and secondary sources to develop the major arguments. I have conducted field research on the topic of tourism and land grabbing in Thailand (four field visits), Cambodia (two field visits) and Vanuatu (one field visit) between 2013 and 2018. I am also familiar with tourism-related land grabs in Indonesia, Tanzania, Laos, Myanmar and Philippines due to either my own research on closely related topics or through supervision of PhD students at the University of Auckland and previously at Kyoto University. Yet the majority of cases discussed rely on the examination of secondary sources and draw on refereed international journals, media articles, personal and institutional blogs, government and NGO reports, corporate websites, and legal documents. Literature searches were undertaken via citation databases, such as Scopus and Google Scholar, using a range of relevant keywords. The emphasis of the search was on English-language

Introduction 9 academic literature but articles and documents in German, French and Spanish language were also considered.

Case selection

While there is no doubt that tourism-related land grabbing and displacement have occurred in many countries of the Global North, particularly in settler states like the United States, Australia and New Zealand, the focus of this book has been on case studies from the Global South. In selecting the case studies, I focused on (1) broad geographical coverage, (2) high actuality, and (3) trustworthiness of sources. An initial search generated more than 50 relatively well-documented case studies. This preliminary selection was reduced to 31 by eliminating cases that (1) were not based on thorough and independent investigation by more than one source, (2) did not contain new information after 2015, and/or (3) were somewhat redundant as they did not provide any additional insights into actors, discourse, mechanisms and impacts of tourism-related land grabbing.

Due to the principal focus on English-language sources, there is a potential bias towards regions and countries where more articles, documents and media reports were available in English. Nevertheless, the case studies cover a wide range of world regions, including North America, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and the South Pacific. Figure 1.1 provides a map indicating the 26 countries where the 31 case studies have been conducted.

  • 1 Mexico (Chapters 3 and 9)
  • 2 Guatemala (Chapter 8)
  • 3 Honduras (Chapter 5)
  • 4 Costa Rica (Chapter 4)
  • 5 Haiti (Chapter 5)
  • 6 Colombia (Chapter 7)
  • 7 Peru (Chapter 8)
  • 8 Brazil (Chapter 9)
  • 9 Argentina (Chapter 8)
  • 10 Israel & Palestine (Chapter 6)
  • 11 Tanzania (Chapter 7)
  • 12 Mozambique (Chapter 7)
  • 13 South Africa (Chapters 7 and 9)
  • 14 Mauritius (Chapter 4)
  • 15 India (Chapters 7 and 9)
  • 16 Sri Lanka (Chapter 6)
  • 17 Bangladesh (Chapter 6)
  • 18 China (Chapter 8)
  • 19 Myanmar (Chapter 6)
  • 20 Laos (Chapter 9)
  • 21 Thailand (Chapter 5)
  • 22 Cambodia (Chapters 3 and 8)
  • 23 Philippines (Chapters 3 and 5)
  • 24 Indonesia (Chapter 4)
  • 25 Timor Leste (Chapter 3)
  • 26 Vanuatu (Chapter 4)

Figure 1.1 Map with location of case studies

Analytical framework

The comparative analysis of selected case studies places particular emphasis on practices of dispossession, following Devine and Ojeda’s (2017) conceptual ideas on violence and dispossession in tourism development. This has been subsequently developed into an analytical framework for a comparative case study by Neef et al. (2018) in southern Thailand (cf. Chapter 5). However, for the purpose of this book, the framework has been modified to include ‘eviction’ as an additional violent practice alongside ‘enclosure’, ‘extraction’ and ‘erasure’, while excluding ‘commodification’, ‘destructive creation’, and ‘(neo)colonialism’ from the analysis. This is not to suggest, however, that these latter three practices are not at work in the cases selected for this book. The framework as outlined in Table 1.1 is examined with selected cases in Chapter 10.

Another analytical concept that is employed in this book is Harvey’s (2006) notion of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ which he breaks down into four elements, i.e. privatisation, fmancialisation, management and manipulation of crises, and state redistributions. These are further explored in Chapter 10.

Table 1. / Practices of dispossession in tourism

Type of practice



Tourism physically removes communities and individuals from territories that they have previously occupied, whether under non-codified customary ownership or formally recognised communal or private land title. Eviction can occur via openly violent measures (such as burning of houses) or by more subtle means of coercion and may or may not include compensation.


Tourism dispossesses people from access to material means of subsistence, such as land, water, timber, fisheries and other resources. It is linked to ‘accumulation by dispossession’ as the tourism sector physically appropriates various types of natural resources that were previously vital to local people’s livelihoods, e.g. for subsistence farming or artisanal fishery.


Tourism development functions as an 'extractive industry’ instead of being an alternative to (other) extractive industries, such as mining. The tourism sector exploits the natural environment by such practices as extracting large amounts of freshwater, removing protective mangrove forests and mining sand for beach development.


Tourism’s representational practices render pre-existing definitions of place, livelihood, identity and history invisible or erase them deliberately. The tourism sector might infringe on culturally important places (e.g. ceremonial grounds, graveyards), destroy artefacts of cultural and historic significance or render other cultures invisible through a variety of measures.

Source: Partially adapted and expanded from Devine and Ojeda (2017) and Neef et al. (2018).

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >