Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Krister Andersson

Second Advisor

J. Terrence McCabe

Third Advisor

Dale Miller


This paper considers ecotourism as a potential alternative livelihood solution in case studies of small-scale fisheries (SSF) in coastal Tanzania. The case studies are in four locations in the Zanzibar and Mafia archipelagoes where there is a marine protected area (MPA) and where some level of ecotourism is present. SSF literature seeks to promote sustainable use of artisanal fishing grounds through decentralization and co-management techniques. Alternative livelihoods are a measure for relieving economic pressure on the fishery resources. Ecotourism is a unique alternative livelihood seeking to use tourism to generate conservation of local natural and cultural resources. By assessing the obstacles encountered in the management and development of these MPA/ecotourism case studies, one can glean information on how to encourage responsible development and on the nature of development itself. Stakeholders are found to be more engaged and cooperative when development projects are understood through their own cultural worldview. Disruptions to this framework can cause misunderstandings of goals and disengagement from the development. Using arguments founded in deep ecology’s interpretative theory, this thesis proposes the theory: Interpretive Cultural Diffusion. This theory frames the difficulties faced when different cultural frameworks collide in deep ecological terms, and explains that the diffusion of information across cultural gaps must be calculated and minimal. This paper shows that sharing cultural values is not only a key step in the co-management development process, but is the central product of ecotourism. Thus ecotourism promotes Interpretive Cultural Diffusion by requiring marginalized local communities to create an institutionalized narrative for their own culture. The value of this narrative, specifically in regards to the perception of a traditional culture’s relationship with nature, is explained in terms of deep ecology. Nature and cultural esotericism are proposed as two understandings of the value of authenticity in ecotourism.