The emergence of a mass community-based ecotourism theme park : the case of Ejido Chacchoben, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Advisor's Name

David Bray

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Joel Heinen

Third Advisor's Name

Rebecca Zarger

Date of Defense



In 1998, a dispute between a federal government agency and the local community of Chacchoben resulted in the emergence of a community-based ecotourism (CBE) enterprise to be fully owned and operated by the community in conjunction with a complex arrangement of agreements and partnerships with external actors. CBE is usually framed as a lower-impact, often small-scale alternative to mass tourism and as a conservation and development strategy that can hypothetically protect biologically diverse landscapes while improving the lives of marginalized peasant and indigenous communities through their participation. This case study analyzes the roles of common property land tenure and social capital and how the unique dilemma of a mass community-based ecotourism theme park emerged in Chacchoben. Findings indicate that local decisions and processes of development, conservation, and land use are affected by the complex interaction between local and external institutions and fluctuating levels of social capital.



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