Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Amelia Moore

Abstract

As marine ecologies at global and local scales respond to the manifold impacts of global climate change, so too must the dive tourism industry adapt to new ocean dynamics. To be resilient in the face of ongoing change these adaptations are necessarily local, environmentally aware, and systematic. On Lanzarote, a volcanic island at the northern end of the Canary Island archipelago, tourism developers have long claimed a particular skill in implementing environmentally aware, adaptive tourism infrastructure projects on land. At the peak of package tourism development in the 1960s, Lanzarote’s tourism board invested in César Manrique’s particular brand of Modernist art-ecotourism. Thirty years later UNESCO designated Lanzarote a Man and Biosphere Reserve, celebrating the landscapes specifically highlighted by this socio-ecological synthesis. The development of Lanzarote illustrates how ideas of art, ecology, and value can cross oceans and alter environments.

Now, with the installation of an underwater sculpture museum qua artificial reef called the Museo Atlántico, these Anthropocene tourism projects extend below the ocean’s surface. Using environmental history, participant observation, and ethnographic methods over a combined four months of field work between Lanzarote’s summer seasons in 2016 and 2017, this thesis details the ideals, policies, and aesthetics that underpin Lanzarote’s tourism infrastructure. Specifically, it interrogates the ways in which the Museo Atlántico contributes – or fails to contribute – to the resilience of coastal development on this arid, alien island. Without considering artificial reefs like the Museo Atlántico as development, conservation-motivated infrastructure installation can undercut the public review processes central to resilient design in the Anthropocene.

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