One of our directors, Dr Stroma Cole, has been given a British Academy grant to undertake a unique research project to explicitly explore the gender dimensions of the impact of tourism-related water scarcity in an emerging tourism destination.
In Labuan Bajo, Indonesia the number of tourists has more than doubled in the past five years, yet the area is extremely high risk in terms of both quantity and quality of water. This builds on her previous research into the tourism-water nexus in Bali in 2010 and Costa Rica in 2012. Using participatory methods, the research will pose two key questions: What are the gender dimensions of tourism-related water scarcity? How does this affect gendered power relations in tourism workplaces, households and communities?
The study will establish an empirical picture of water use in Labuan Bajo, mapping out gendered power relations in terms of usage, control and access. The intersectional approach will explicitly acknowledge differences between women, particularly in this highly stratified tourism community. Second, the analysis will pay attention to the socioeconomic dimensions of tourism-related water shortages. By bringing a gender analysis to the foreground, the research will go beyond questions about the environmental impact of the tourism industry and explore the ways in which such an impact interacts with and (re)-articulates inequalities, particularly gendered inequalities.
Finally, the research will explore the relationship between social reproduction, tourism and water. This involves factoring in the unpaid work involved in water and to what extent the tourism sector changes/increases/exacerbates such work. Stroma lived and worked in Indonesia for 12 years, conducted her PhD tourism research in Flores. She is happy to be returning, to help the islanders understand the problems and begin to seek solutions.