PhD defence

Environmental Governance in Bhutan: Ecotourism, Environmentality and Cosmological Subjectivities


This thesis explores how environmental conservation and subjectivities are influenced as Bhutan negotiates increasing integration into the global capitalist economy. Until recently, Bhutan sought to isolate itself, relying on a state-centred monarchic governance regime for domestic economic development.  In so doing Bhutan has developed a reputation for contesting dominant development models alternatively promoting its signature Gross National Happiness (GNH) agenda.  Now, however, Bhutan is negotiating increased involvement in global market forces, causing fissures in this philosophy.  One of the main forms of global market integration currently pursued by Bhutan is ecotourism, which seeks to harness environmental conservation as a form of income generation.  While this promotion seeks to frame ecotourism as an economic strategy to balance environmental and development aspirations, how the sector influences cultural values and assumptions is unaddressed.  In this way, ecotourism can be seen to promote particular cultural transformations that challenge the broader goals of GNH.