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'R.I.P. Nature Island': the threat of a proposed oil refinery on Dominica's identity

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Dominica is a small island nation in the eastern Caribbean Sea that has long struggled with issues of poverty and development. To improve these conditions, the government formed a preliminary agreement with Venezuela to build a multimillion dollar oil refinery on the island. Some discussion about this proposal took place in local forums, such as radio talk shows, but additional discussion took place online. Internet-based media, including online reproductions of traditional media and new types of media such as interactive discussion forums and weblogs, were used not only to continue the discussion but also to raise awareness among a wider audience. The framework for appealing to such a disparate set of interests both locally and abroad was already in place: the island's 'nature island' identity. The project was perceived as a threat to quality and aesthetic appearance of the nature island as well as a threat to the concept of Dominica as the 'nature island'. This paper examines the role of Dominica's identity at the heart of this perceived threat in the construction of environmental discourses through internet-based media, such as online newspapers with associated discussion forums and blogs.

Keywords: Dominica; environmental discourse; internet-based media; national identity; oil refinery

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography and Geology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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