Public Lecture: Oil Legacies and Sustainable Futures on Mexico’s Gulf Coast

Event date: 
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 5:00pm - 6:00pm

Oil Legacies and Sustainable Futures on Mexico’s Gulf Coast

Lisa Breglia, Ph.D.
Global Affairs, George Mason University

October 23, 2013
I.G. Greer Auditorium

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is well known for a rich legacy of great cultural achievement of ancient Maya civilization found in a contemporary landscape replete with archaeological ruins. But the legacy that current residents of the Gulf coast of the southern state of Campeche face with consternation rather than celebration is the damage to the marine and coastal environment wrought by three decades of intensive offshore oil exploitation. Now confronted with irrecoverable declines in capture in Gulf fisheries and the loss of the hard-won local revenues that oil production brought to the local level, coastal fishing communities of Campeche’s Laguna de Términos region are turning to nature-based tourism as a last resort for sustainable development. In order to be successful, they must compete with the phenomenal success of the fun-and-sun beach tourism of the Maya Riviera as well as cultural heritage tourism in the Peninsula’s internationally famous archaeological zones.  But perhaps the bigger challenge is the expansion of public and private sector on- and offshore oil and gas drilling. How can the seemingly incompatible projects of fossil fuel exploitation and nature-based tourism in the Laguna de Términos provide a sustainable future for Campeche’s coastal residents?

About the Speaker
Lisa Breglia's work focuses on natural and cultural resources, ranging from archaeological heritage to energy, and her research interests extend from Mexico, to Colombia, and Cuba. She is the author of Monumental Ambivalence: the Politics of Heritage (University of Texas Press, 2006), an ethnography which illustrates and analyzes the competing claims to own and benefit from Maya archaeological sites in the Yucatán Peninsula. Her book, Living with Oil: Promises Peaks and Declines on Mexico's Gulf Coast  (University of Texas Press, 2013) examines how Mexico's oil industry affects not only lives and livelihoods of fisherfolk in Campeche's Laguna de Términos, but also how thirty years of offshore oil extraction shapes US/Mexico relations as well as hemispheric energy policy. Breglia is currently the director of both the Global Affairs Program and the Global Interdisciplinary Programs at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She lives in Washington, DC where she volunteers for the Stop the Drill campaign with Oceana, a global oceans conservation organization. 

A small reception will take place after the talk and copies of Living with Oil: Promises Peaks and Declines on Mexico's Gulf Coast  (University of Texas Press, 2013) will be available for purchase and signing by Dr. Breglia. 

Sponsored by
Department of Anthropology
Department of Geography & Planning
Department of Sustainable Development
College of Arts & Sciences
Office of International Education and Development 

Department of Anthropology
Contact name: 
Timothy J. Smith
Contact email:
Contact telephone: 
(828) 262-8473
I.G. Greer Auditorium
Free and Open to the Public

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