Entry for:150 Years of Discovery: Emerging Research
1. Please provide a brief summary of your video and research.
This video is a short synopsis of my PhD research, based in Utila, Honduras. Utila is located 29 kilometers north of the Honduran mainland in a region that marks the south end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System – the second largest in the world. Utila is the smallest of the three Honduran Bay Islands, and is one of the cheapest destinations globally to get certified as a scuba diver.
As a multi-disciplinary study, my research explores the extent to which the pressures of maintaining and promoting tourism in Utila are leading to negative environmental and social consequences on the island. In fact, the most commonly tourism-promoted ecosystems such as the coral reefs and mangroves, are also the ones most susceptible to exploitation, and thus, in urgent need of protection as they are key to not only the long-term viability of the tourism industry itself, but also the future health of the island and the local community. By focusing on Utila, Honduras as a microcosm of what can happen when elites dictate development projects with a focus on short-term monetary goals as opposed to long-term sustainability, my research highlights the point that these are in fact, global narratives, and not issues that are endemic to Utila, or Honduras.
As the first Practice-Led-Research PhD project at the Film Department (co-supervised by Human Geography) at the Victoria University of Wellington, my research is unique in that it intersects a traditional written PhD exegesis, activist outreach, as well as the production of a 76-minute feature-length documentary film, Postcards from Utila. Both the written exegesis and the documentary film challenge the dominant tourism representations of Utila with the goal of generating alternative narratives that have the potential to provoke improved social and environmental outcomes in Honduras.
2. Do you have a video hashtag for sharing via twitter?
I am a Croatian-Canadian award-winning documentary filmmaker and photographer, as well as a PhD Candidate in Film and Human Geography at the Victoria University of Wellington.