José Antonio Cortés Vázquez

José Antonio Cortés Vázquez has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and a doctorate in Social Anthropology from the Pablo de Olavide University (Seville). His research focuses on the relationship that humans maintain with the environment, from the point of view of culture and ecological policy, through the study of rural coastline communities in natural protected areas.

He worked as a Marie Curie post-doctorate researcher at Manchester and Sheffield Universities, and as a teacher at University College London and the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has coordinated congresses and international projects and has published more than a dozen chapters and articles in internationally renowned magazines, and also a monograph, for which he received the Marqués de Lozoya national prize in 2011, which is the most prestigious award for social anthropology in Spain.


Jose Antonio Cortés Vázquez studies the benefits and social impact of the environmental conservation policies in post economic crisis Europe: The Case of Galicia, and he will carry out his project at the Faculty of Sociology.

The expansion of environmental conservation policies in recent decades came at the same time as significant social change in rural coastline communities. Since the 80s, the complexity of implementing policies for more sustainable use of natural resources meant that in many cases their introduction caused conflict with local inhabitants. It also opened the door to new types of economic drivers through activities such as ecotourism.

However, the economic crisis and the introduction of austerity policies throughout the past decade caused a huge reduction in the environmental administration’s ability to act and in its resources. On the other hand, it also strengthened the participation of new sectors of society and the private sector in conservation policies. This has generated a new scenario for protected natural areas that must be considered and evaluated.

In light of recent changes, this project aims to identify and analyse both the benefits and the social problems generated by new environmental conservation strategies which are being set out in the present post-crisis context.

Through detailed study of rural, coastal communities in various protected natural areas in Galicia, the aim is to identify how communities in these protected areas are dealing with the economic crisis and the link between their present situation and the conservation measures set out for these areas. With this project a more social vision of conservation measures is sought and it also seeks to contribute to the general reflection about a more responsible use of natural resources.