Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

David Ciplet

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Colleen Scanlan Lyons

Fourth Advisor

Patricia Limerick


Praia do Sono is a traditional fishing community that falls within two environmentally protected areas on the Atlantic Forest Coast of Brazil. Praia do Sono has a long history of resistance to antagonists trying to remove the community. Current antagonists to the Praia do Sono community include a neighboring gated community of vacation homes for the ultra-elite, conservation policy which protects against real estate speculation but limits development, and a growing tourism sector sewing divides within the community over the best avenue for development. After conducting ethnographic observation in Praia do Sono and semi-structured interviews of Praia do Sono residents, this study uses a political ecology lens to examine the forces shaping the community’s experience of development and tactics used by residents to resist such forces. Data suggest that the two forces that most shape the community’s experience are neoliberal conservation forces and the growth machine. The main resistance tactics used are leveraging the Caiçara identity and strong individual community leaders, although drawbacks include lack of community engagement, divides over the best strategy for development, and policy paradoxes that limit community agency over the trajectory of their development.