Valorising imaginaries: Seizing opportunities in the Colombian Coffee Region

Studenteropgave: Kandidatspeciale og HD afgangsprojekt

  • Theresa Marie Harrestrup Schaltz
  • Frederikke Korsgaard Kristensen
4. semester, Turisme, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
The subject for the present thesis is the construction of the Coffee Region in Colombia as a tourism destination. The thesis adds knowledge to the fields of construction of place and place identity by investigating how space and place are defined through the negotiation of capitals between both national and international actors. In continuation, the research question guiding the thesis is as follows: How is the construction of place identity in the Colombian Coffee Region influenced by the negotiation of coffee space?
The case study is the Coffee Region in central Colombia, comprised of the departments Risaralda, Quindío, Caldas, and Valle de Cauca. Primary data for the thesis was collected during three weeks of on-site fieldwork in Bogotá, the Coffee Region, and Medellín in January 2018. Secondary data collected through desk research also supports the analysis and the methodology employed for data collection and analysis consists of participant observation, various forms of interviews, and document analysis. Overall, the methodology and research approach are based in social constructivism and emphasise the subjective nature of social science research and the creation of knowledge.
The theoretical framework supporting the analysis comprises concepts of heritage tourism, imaginaries, postmodernity, authenticity, space and place, mobility, capitals, and power. The theories allow us to analyse the research question taking many perspectives into account and to provide nuanced insights into how place is constructed in the case study. The analysis demonstrates that the Colombian Coffee Growers’ Federation (FNC) has managed to reframe the identity of the Coffee Region through the creation of the brand Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (CCLC). The FNC utilised its symbolic, cultural, and social capital to position itself in a way which allowed it to create a relation with the Colombian Tourism Ministry and to obtain UNESCO World Heritage status for the Coffee Region as defined in the CCLC brand. The purpose of creating the CCLC is to capitalise on identified market opportunities to increase tourism in the region as well as the consumption of Colombian specialty coffee both inside and outside of Colombia. Thus, before authenticating the identity of the Coffee Region through UNESCO certification, the FNC modified the heritage to also include an element of consumption of high quality coffee alongside traditional characteristics such as architecture, arts, and the inhabitants of the region. The CCLC presents the Coffee Region identity as homogenous and does not consider the discrepancy which the fieldwork for this thesis has uncovered. As such, an analysis of how the imaginaries disseminated through the CCLC are physically manifested in place demonstrates that different local tourism actors only manifest the elements to a limited degree. This shows that various understandings of coffee identity exist simultaneously and highlights the social construction and negotiation of place. The thesis further concludes that by strategically utilising its capitals, the FNC manages to successfully establish this new narrative without needing to create physical modifications in the Coffee Region. This model for regional tourism development, including its long term sustainability, is proposed as a strand of further research.
Udgivelsesdato31 maj 2018
Antal sider99
ID: 279966821