State-led community-based ecotourism: multiple governmentalities of ecotourism development in Jeungdo, South Korea

Authors: Myung Ae Choi*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Asia
Keywords: environmental governance, the state, neoliberalism, ecotourism, South Korea, governmentality
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Delaware A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Ecotourism is often thought as a mode of market-based conservation where the private sector replaces the state. In ecotourism in South Korea, however, the government takes the leadership in the planning and implementation of ecotourism, while enthusiasm for the market is widespread. This challenges the purported linear transition in conservation governance from state-centred command-and-control to community-centred, and/or market-based approaches. Instead, it suggests simultaneous operation of more than a singular mode of governing mechanisms. Drawing on recent work on environmental governmentalities, this paper examines the ways in which ecotourism development is governed in Jeungdo, South Korea. Since 2009, local residents and authorities of Jeungdo have developed tidal flat ecotourism as a means of delivering economic development and conservation objectives. This initiative involved a range of voluntary schemes and economic incentives designed to trigger local participation in tourism-related enterprise, such as guesthouses, farmers markets, and place-making of Jeungdo as a pure, laid-back and slow destination. While Jeungdo is often claimed as a “model” of community-based ecotourism development, this process also involved intensive intervention of the state and local governments through generous subsides and quasi-government agents. As such, not just neoliberal, but sovereign and disciplinary modes of governmentalities also operate in this South Korean ecotourism destination. This paper then considers the tensions and “awkward” collaborations of multiple governmentalities of Jeungdo in relation to the site-specific legacy of the developmental state.

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