Renée Bartlett-Webber'11 (anthropology)
"Pura Vida - Costa Rican Construction of Identity"
Location: Costa Rica
Renée returned to Costa Rica, where she had studied abroad in spring ’10, to investigate in depth the cultural origins, meaning and function of the slang term “pura vida,” or “pure life,” used widely in Costa Rica to mean, “all is fine.” Using an ethnographic approach, Renée put her anthropology methods into practice, interviewing Costa Ricans of various age groups, social status, and geographical location. In so doing, she discovered that few people know the origins of the term, and that it has both positive and negative connotations about Costa Rican lifestyles, from a slogan to boost tourism to a stereotype of Costa Ricans as lazy and unmotivated. The phrase was a window for Renée to explore the culture of Costa Rica more intimately, she wrote. “This experience has enriched my academic life at Beloit enormously.” Renée wrote a thesis on her research and presented it at the Beloit College Student Symposium in April, 2011.