Fabien Bourlon

Géographe et Géologue
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Institutional membership: 
Université Grenoble Alpes
Resarch associate (m)
Non permanent.e
Research areas: 
Territorial geography
Research team: 



Resident researcher at the Centro de Investigación en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia (CIEP), associate researcher at the UMR PACTE laboratory, Institute of Urban Planning and Alpine Geography of the University of Grenoble Alpes and associate professor at the Universidad Austral de Chile.

My research focuses include innovation and development support related to planning and territorial management in Chilean Patagonia. Some study focuses are tourism as a factor of cultural and economic change, integrated management by local stakeholders, social representations, conservation and natural resource use in borderlands in the context of socio-environmental change, historical and constructed geographies, and the concept of Scientific Tourism as a tool for integrated local development and participatory research.

Territorial dynamics of nature based touristic bordelands : an analysis through development forms in Chilean Patagonia
External supervisor(s): 
Pascal Mao

Territorial dynamics are the result of a games of actors within a given geographical area. Understanding them involves identifying the actors' strategies and their relationship to the territory. The gradual investment of at the frontier of civilization to the tourism economy induces significant socio-spatial changes. What are the socio-geographical logics that characterize the tourism transformation of the nature borderlands? The dynamics of tourism destinations are extensively studied but those of nature's borderlands are not. Marginal, peripheral or frontier places are strong in the traveler's imaginaries, they are exotic and constitute geographical objects of their own [part I]. In an ever more urbanized world, the lesser-known areas of nature, defined as Wilderness in the Anglo-Saxon culture, are attracting evermore tourists of all origins.The analysis of the physical particularities, statistical and cartographic data of Touristic Nature Borderland shows the spatial relevancy of the notion. A critical analysis of nature tourism actors' speeches shows their the social-cultural attributes and the imaginaries associated to them. Nature territories are social constructs, they result of a unique cultural organization. Different social representations, individual or collective, generate actor's speeches and actions. They build different Tourism Development Forms that have different logics; state, industrial, traditionalist, entrepreneurial, ecological, alternative or recreational [Part II].The appearance of a form depends on historical and cultural conditions of a territory. It is possible to identify them on a nature area by analyzing tourism actor's speeches and the spatial materiality which result from their actions. The dynamics at work in a recreational area are the result of the existing relationships between group of actors with different conceptions of development. Confrontations and agreements between Tourism Development Forms arise in time and space [part III]. Despite distinct representations of nature and economical justifications, they can unite against a threat to their interests. This is the case, for example, during environmental conflicts, around the industrial use of water resources. On the other hand, public policies wanting to promote the economic development of the territory tend to support only one form of development and thus favor ideological confrontations. The analysis of public and private projects in the region of Aysén in Chilean Patagonia, shows that these favor in partial manner certain actors of the territory. Only some projects, such as scientific tourism, manage to unite actors. This is made possible by empowering them trough a territorial project, cultural rather than commercial, based on the sharing of knowledges and the specification of the tourism resources. The work of a facilitator and mediator, in charge of territorial engineering, insures the collective initiative.A reading through the Tourism Development Forms proves particularly relevant for emerging systems. The study of the existing conflicts in Nature based Borderlands reveals processes that are characteristic of modern societies, tourism being at the heart of the contradictions of our civilization anchored in the metropolis.