Trading impressions: Evidence from Costa Rica

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The case of indigenous artisans in Costa Rica trying to succeed in the global markets for handicrafts and international tourism demonstrates that the public narratives of the country's character circulated by their national government and other institutional actors impose severe constraints on artisans and other economic actors. Market opportunities and socioinstitutional constraints arise not only from the beliefs that people within a national territory have about themselves but also from the roles that outsiders recognize as appropriate to a people within a given territory. The Costa Rican case suggests that the promises and pitfalls of the NAFTA free trade agreement cannot be understood adequately by solely examining the structural conditions of each country. Instead, the uneven spread of benefits and liabilities will depend, in part, on how nation-states and their subnational communities are framed in the imaginations of the global marketplace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-231
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


  • Chorotega
  • Costa Rica
  • Embeddedness
  • Handicrafts
  • Impression management
  • International tourism


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