The Slow(est) Professor: A Decade of Community-Based Water Research Along Nicaragua's Pacific Coast
Dr. Matthew Taylor
Department of Geography and the Environment
University of Denver
Abstract: I report on long-term field research along Nicaragua’s “Emerald Coast.” This research arose from struggles over groundwater presented to me by community members along the coast after my presence in the communities for four years. Simply, a tourism boom took place during a five-year drought. Local families and large tourism operations experienced severe water shortages. My team and I have attempted to determine the origins of water shortages and dry wells. Are water shortages a result of drought, extraction for tourism purposes like golf courses, or a combination of both? Investigating both the physical and human aspects of water struggles takes time, especially in regions where no data exist and access to land and water records requires the slow building of trust. Slowly accumulating data and an understanding about all aspects of water with local communities (both elite and non-elite) does not fit well with publishing demands of the academy. Thus, in addition to presenting preliminary results on groundwater availability and struggles over access to groundwater, I question and discuss the pace of the academy and the pressures put on new scholars to produce countable outcomes like publications.