Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Rebecca K. Zarger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin Yelvington, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Lende, Ph.D.


Anthropology of Fisheries, Economic Development, Ethnography, Resilience, Resource Management


This thesis describes how politics shape vulnerability to climate change at the local level, based on an ethnography in Cortez, Florida. Focusing on a “traditional” commercial fishing village on the Florida Gulf Coast, my research indicates that such vulnerabilities are created at multiple scales of the nexus between governance and commerce. Moreover, a key finding is that, as a community closely linked to the health of local environments, the village in Cortez is largely organized to protect their commercial industry from regional economic overdevelopment; not in recognition of its role in contributing to global climate change, but because such overdevelopment is perceived as unjust and destructive to local environments. Further, through qualitatively examining the environmental values of a “traditional” fishing community located in a large metropolitan coastal area, my thesis confronts the responsibility that broader society may have to reevaluate economic growth in effort to truly foster sustainability and justice. Finally, the thesis describes how communities like Cortez may be repositories for locally developed, ecologically grounded resilience strategies, rendering their voice all the more crucial, beyond conventional stakeholder approaches, in public discussions about regional economic development and marine resource management.