(De)constructing paradise : assessing residents' place experiences during an era of residential tourism development in Boquete, Panamá
McWatters, Mason R., 1980-
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Residential tourism is a timely concern to social scientists as both the scale of affected participants and the scope of affected places has greatly increased within the most recent years. Created by counter-stream flows of consumption-led migration, residential tourism creates a new and fascinating context of residential co-inhabitance between populations of diverse cultural, social, linguistic, racial and economic backgrounds. Through in-depth qualitative techniques, this work explores the ways that the native and foreign residents of Boquete experience their shared place of residence differently. The main thesis argues that while native residents primarily experience Boquete as a meaningful place, foreign residential tourists primarily experience Boquete as a distant natural and human landscape. While the former group experiences Boquete as existential insiders, the latter group maintains an outsider status seeing landscape based on an ideology of sight, distance and separation. These divergent experiences of Boquete significantly impact the nature of social interaction between these residential groups creating a divide of social isolation. The thesis also argues that as residential tourist growth and development continue to progress in Boquete, native residents are experiencing estranging processes of alienation, commoditization and displacement, effectively jeopardizing their meaningful experience of Boquete as place.