Susan Stonich
Department of Anthropology: Office HSSB 2028; Phone 805.893.8627
Environmental Studies Program: Office Girvetz 2318
Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science

Geographical Areas of Interest

Latin America:
Central America
South America (Ecuador)


Research Interests

The Human Dimensions of Global Change

One of my major overall professional objectives is to integrate anthropological and other social science perspectives into studies of the Human Dimensions of Global Change. In 1997 I was appointed to the National Academy of Science / National Research Council, Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change where I am involved in a number of interdisciplinary projects with my colleagues on the committee. To learn more about committee activities please see:

The human and environmental consequences of economic globalization

Most of my work has examined the human and environmental consequences of economic development within the recent wave of the globalization of capital. I have followed the major development strategies in the Third World, first concentrating on agricultural development and more recently on aquacultural development (industrial shrimp farming) and tourism. This work was done primarily in Central America and Mexico where I spent several years doing fieldwork. A good example of this work can be found in, I am Destroying the Land: The Political Ecology of Poverty and Environmental Destruction in Honduras, Westview Press, 1993. Also of interest may be, "Globalization of the Shrimp Mariculture Industry: The Social Justice and Environmental Quality Implications in Central America," Society and Natural Resources, volume 10, number 2, pp.161-177, 1997. In the area of tourism development, an interesting article is, "The Political Ecology of Tourism," Annals of Tourism Research, volume 25, number 1, pp. 25-54, 1998.

Globalization of resistance to industrial shrimp farming

My work in the late 1980s with grassroots groups and non-governmental organizations in Central America that were resisting the expansion of industrial shrimp farming along the Pacific coast, led to my most significant research on the globalization of grassroots resistance movements to industrial shrimp farming. My work on this subject has allowed me to expand my research focus from Central America to Latin America and Asia. Hundreds of grassroots social and environmental groups in Latin America, Asia, and Africa are resisting the expansion of industrial shrimp farming in coastal zones. These resistance groups are supported by a wide array of international environmental organizations, private foundations, legal experts, members of the media, and academics. In October 1997, this informal network established the Industrial Shrimp Action Network (ISA Net) during a week long meeting here in Santa Barbara.

Currently I have funding from the National Science Foundation, the University of California Pacific Rim Research Program, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to direct an interdisciplinary project that is addressing the following major research questions: 1) Why have grassroots resistance movements emerged in response to the globalization of the shrimp farming industry? Is collective social action linked to declines in the biophysical environment, to access/equity issues, and/or to national/identity issues? (2) How have local grassroots groups and non-governmental organizations been able to transcend their locality (and diversity in terms of ethnicity, culture, nationality, etc.) to become part of a global network? (3) What are the roles of advanced information technologies (such as the Internet, the World Wide Web, and GIS) in facilitating and/or hindering global integration, in providing crucial information, and in achieving shared objectives? (4) To what extent can globalization of resistance activities promote social justice and environmental conservation through strengthening civil society and contributing to alternative visions of development?

A few of my recent publications in this area include the following: "Resisting the Blue Revolution: Contending Coalitions Surrounding Industrial Shrimp Farming," Co-authored with Conner Bailey, Human Organization, Vol. 54, number 1, pp. 23-36, 2000. "Information Technologies, Advocacy, and Development: Resistance and Backlash to Industrial Shrimp Farming," Cartography and Geographic Information Systems, (Special Issue on Public Participation GIS), volume 25, number 2, pp. 113-122, 1998; "Reclaiming the Commons: Grassroots Resistance and Retaliation in Honduras," Cultural Survival Quarterly, (Special Issue, Voices from the Commons), volume 20, number 1, pp. 31-35, 1996.

Tourism and conservation

Tourism has become the world's largest industry and the most important economic development strategy in many countries. My work in this area has used political ecological analysis to assess the human and environmental repercussions of this expanding industry; to identify the winners and the losers in locales where tourism is promoted, and to recommend ways to enhance community-based tourism and natural resource management. My book on this subject was published in January, 2000 entitled, The Other Side of Paradise: Tourism, Conservation, and Development in the Bay Islands.

Community conflict and environmental justice at the Agriculture-Urban Interface

This is a new project being done in collaboration with Dr. Barbara Harthorn, a medical anthropologist here at UCSB. It continues our previous work on farmworker health and environmental justice in Santa Barbara County, California. This interdisciplinary project looks at the considerable conflict that has emerged around the use of agricultural pesticides among various social actors in the community of Lompoc. The project involves conducting a community risk assessment and creating an electronic information and GIS system for use by community members. This project is being done in connection with interdisciplinary efforts of the Public Participation GIS group.

Sample of Publications

Courses Taught

Back to faculty page Back to main page

Updated June 8, 2004