Taylor’s proposal abstract:

 
The Impact of Culture and Religion on Community Responses to Sustainable Shrimp Farming in Southern Thailand

Thesis Statement: The responses of Southern Thai communities to mangrove sustainability measures including shrimp farm certification are influenced by religion, culture, and shared history.

Abstract: The shrimp farming industry in Thailand has grown rapidly in recent years and now serves as one of the top exporters of shrimp to the U.S. However with this surge came ecological and social consequences for villages throughout Thailand. Unsustainable shrimp farming practices degrade mangrove forests which serve as a protecting barrier from tsunamis for coastal villages as well as providing villages with marine life for consumption and sale. Current sustainable farming movements have been propelled by consumers from the U.S. and other nations but little is known of how Thai communities feel about sustainability efforts or what factors compel such feelings. This project will survey and interview members of two Southern Thai communities about their thoughts on conservation, sustainability endeavors, and certification programs designed to regulate shrimp farming. The project will analyze how community responses are affected by the religion, culture, and shared history of the village. This information will provide insight into the reactions of Thai coastal villagers and may be useful in developing preservation regulations that strengthen Thai village communities socially and economically.

Meeting with shrimp farmer
Meeting with a shrimp farmer.  Taylor is on the right and Alina is in the center of this picture..

“My research focuses mainly on the impacts of religion on village responses to shrimp farming. When I was doing preliminary research in Marietta I didn't think about how challenging it could be to ask people questions about their religion without seeming invasive. Upon reaching Ban Thale Nok, I realized how little I knew about Islam. The Leadership in Southeast Asia course I took last semester introduced me to Buddhism and the Buddhist perspective on life, but I've never taken a class about Islam, nor have I had many close friends who identified as Muslim.

Slowly, as I grew more comfortable in Ban Thale Nok, I began gathering information about how Muslims in the village feel their religion impacts their views of nature, conservation, and the shrimp farming industry. At first it seemed like there was absolutely no connection. However, the villagers in Ban Thale Nok appear to be great stewards of the environment. The village has very little trash and people conserve energy and water in their homes. It seems that the people of the village are so accustomed to conserving nature that they do not even think about it. One thing that many villagers mentioned when I asked them about Islam and nature is that Islam teaches people to never destroy elements of nature that are not being used. It does appear that villagers are conservative with their use of natural resources and do not like to interfere with nature unless absolutely necessary.

It has taken some time, but I'm starting to see patterns in the information that villagers give me in interviews and surveys. They correlate with the observations I make about village life. While research got off to a bit of a rough start, I'm feeling more confident in myself and my ability to respectfully gain knowledge about different cultures and the information I'm gathering for this project.”  - Taylor

Taylor at the aquarium

Alina , Eric, MaLisa, Home page