Laurie Medina

  • Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies


314 Baker Hall or 300 International Center

Research Interests

  • Conservation, Protected Areas, and Environmental Government
  • Economic Development
  • Ecotourism
  • Indigenous Rights Struggles and the Production of International Indigenous Rights Law
  • Maya Studies
  • Central America, Belize

Biographical Info

LAURIE KROSHUS MEDINA is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Her research integrates issues in economic development, environmentalism, and indigenous rights. Her research on agricultural development in Belize links the construction and mobilization of collective identities to negotiations over development priorities and agendas. Her work on ecotourism in Belize focuses on efforts to combine economic development with conservation goals, as these intersect with struggles over indigenous rights to land.Dr. Medina’s current project explores the complex negotiations involved in implementing ecotourism in several Mopan Maya villages in the tropical forests of southern Belize. The creation of protected areas in southern Belize and the promotion of tourism to those protected areas have incorporated residents of nearby villages into debates over environmentalist and development agendas that are simultaneously local and global in scope. Maya villagers negotiate with government officials, international development donors, tourists, national and international environmentalist NGOs, and transnational indigenous rights organizations over a range of questions: What are the goals of development and conservation, and how might they be achieved? What rights and resources should local communities enjoy? How should village residents be integrated into ecotourism? What kinds of power are exercised by the diverse stakeholders involved in ecotourism, and how does power structure their participation in planning and policy making? The project also explores negotiations among village residents themselves, over issues such as the gendered impact of ecotourism, the ways that inequalities among villagers enable or limit participation in ecotourism, and representations of Maya culture in tourism. Since contests over the concepts of ‘environment’ and ‘development’ in southern Belize are linked to Maya struggles for land and autonomy, the research also explores Maya communities’ efforts to win state recognition for their claims to the lands they have traditionally used via a series of legal petitions filed in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Belize Supreme Court. Dr. Medina’s courses include a graduate seminar titled Culture, Resources, and Power and an undergraduate course on Latin America.


Laurie Kroshus Medina. 2015. Governing Through the Market: Neoliberal Environmental Government in Belize. American Anthropologist 117(2):272-284.

Laurie Kroshus Medina. 2012 .  The Uses of Ecotourism: Articulating Conservation and Development Agendas in Belize. In Global Tourism: Cultural Heritage and Economic Encounters, Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) Monographs #30, Sarah M. Lyon and E. Christian Wells, eds. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press. Pp. 227-250.

Laurie Kroshus Medina. 2010.  When Government Targets “The State”: Transnational NGO Government and the State in Belize. Political and Legal Anthropology Review 33(2): 245-263.

Nancy Ojeda Macias, Laurie Kroshus Medina, y Ann V. Millard. 2007.  Estrategias de la familia y el grupo domestico en la migracion agricola internacional. In Familias Mexicanas en Transicion: unas miradas antropologicas, David Robichaux, compilador. Mexico, D.F.: Universidad Iberoamericana. Pp. 307-320.

Laurie Kroshus Medina. 2005.   Ecotourism and Certification: Confronting the Principles and Pragmatics of Socially Responsible Tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 13(3):281-295.

Laurie Kroshus Medina. 2004.  Negotiating Economic Development: Identity Formation and Collective Action in Belize. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Laurie Kroshus Medina. 2003.  History, Culture, and Place-Making: ‘Native’ Status and Maya Identity in Belize. In Perspectives on Las Americas, Matthew Gutmann, Felix Matos Rodriguez, Lynn Stephen, and Patricia Zavella, eds. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 195-212. (Reprint of 1998 article from Journal of Latin American Anthropology.)

Laurie Kroshus Medina. 2003.  Commoditizing Culture: Tourism and Maya Identity. Annals of Tourism Research 30(2):353-368.

Laurie Kroshus Medina. 2003. La comercializatión cultural. El turismo y la identidad maya. Annals of Tourism Research En Español 5(1):86-103. (Spanish translation of 2003 article in Annals of Tourism Research.)