Publication Date

Spring 4-15-2017


The southern Jalisco, Mexico coast is experiencing a transition as much of the beach-front land is being privatized for luxury resort development. In this dissertation I consider sustainable development in the coastal community of La Manzanilla del Mar in the context of this shifting social and material landscape. La Manzanilla is a tourism destination of approximately 1,700 residents, including an estimated 300 foreign residents. These foreign residents have been categorized as lifestyle migrants by social scientists, and lifestyle migration is distinguished from labor and forced migration as the consumption-based form of migration practiced primarily by the middle and upper classes of the Global North. What researchers have given little attention to, however, is that the lifestyle at the core of lifestyle migration extends beyond the migrants themselves. I investigate the material and sociocultural development of La Manzanilla through the interrelated practices of various groups of residents who are not easily categorized but rather overlap and intertwine, including local youth entrepreneurs, lifestyle migrants, artist entrepreneurs, conservationists, and nonprofit founders and participants. Whether considered local or foreign, mobile or immobile, mono or multilingual, I suggest that these La Manzanilla residents may all be described as cosmopolitan, and that the developing cosmopolitan identity of these residents, and the place itself, is inextricably linked to imaginaries of sustainable tourism development. I present a range of discourses about sustainability and sites of community development in this coastal Mexican destination, and discuss the implications of the connection between local understandings and manifestations of cosmopolitanism and global patterns of mobility, consumption, and development. In order to investigate the multiple, conflicting, and concurrent visions of sustainable development in La Manzanilla and the neighboring coast, I examine the relationship between cosmopolitanism, local youth entrepreneurialism, lifestyle migrant emplacement, and tourism imaginaries. I argue that La Manzanilla residents are challenging ideas of environmental, economic, and sociocultural sustainability with interrelated initiatives that comprise a competing model of tourism development distinct from large scale resort development and elite enclave ecotourism characteristic of the surrounding coastal region.


Sustainable development, tourism imaginaries, lifestyle migration, cosmopolitanism, Mexico

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First Advisor

Crown, Patricia L.

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ronda Brulotte

Second Committee Member

Les Field

Third Committee Member

David Dinwoodie

Fourth Committee Member

Roberto Ibarra

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