Doctoral Dissertation Research: Livelihoods and Sovereignty in Coastal Alaska Communities

Project: Research project

Project Details


This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2).

Residents in coastal communities in Southeast Alaska routinely confront complex economic, political and environmental changes. Many communities in the region are highly dependent upon cruise ship tourism and income from visitors engaged in bear watching, sport fishing and hunting. This ethnographic research 1) analyzes how various dimensions of sovereignty are shaping, and being shaped by, the growing economic and political influence of the tourism sector; 2) determines how anthropogenic environmental change influences these dynamics; and 3) explores how sustainable development in Southeast Alaska could be reconceptualized to promote livelihood security. Exploration of tourism's link to livelihood sovereignty is particularly relevant within the context of expanding northern tourism and the development of northern sea routes.

This research engages residents in three Southeast Alaska communities with large tourism sectors. Data collection methods include ethnographic participant observation of tourism activities and community events; formal and informal interviews of residents; and archival research. Thematic coding will be used to identify and understand the dimensions of livelihood sovereignty and how tourism affects Alaska coastal communities. A local advisory board and participatory workshops will ensure that local community concerns are incorporated into research activities. Expected outcomes of this research include community and conference presentations and peer-reviewed journal articles. This work has the potential to inform tourism policy and enhance public engagement in efforts to promote sustainable coastal communities.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date5/1/224/30/24


  • National Science Foundation: $63,276.00


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