Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Latin American Studies

Reader 1

April Mayes

Reader 2

Piya Chatterjee

Reader 3

Suyapa Portillo

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© 2013 Amy L. Hollander


Exceptions to Costa Rican Exceptionalism attempts to locate the complex relationship between tourism and inequality in Costa Rican society across intersections of race and class at multiple levels of Costa Rican society. I examine the power dynamics between “the tourist” and the object of the tourist gaze, Costa Rica and Costa Ricans, Costa Rican citizen-nationals and “peripheral” racial minority citizens, and the peripheral citizen and the undocumented national “other.” This study seeks to arrive at a more complex understanding of how racial and class hierarchy is constructed in Costa Rica by analyzing the role of Costa Rica’s large-scale international tourism campaign in perpetuating that construction. I argue that Costa Rica’s national identity formation depends upon the racialization of “exceptional” political, economic, and social achievements, thereby drawing the boundaries of national belonging and citizenship according to certain features of race, gender, and class. As one of the largest economic sectors in Costa Rican society, tourism plays a significant role in the reproduction and dissemination of the “exceptionalist” construction of Costa Rican identity.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.