Lifestyle Migration and Cultural Tourism as Urban Development Policy in Mexico’s World Heritage Sites. Displacement and gentrification in San Miguel de Allende.

Authors: David Navarrete*, Universidad De Guanajuato
Topics: Cultural Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Development
Keywords: creativity, urban displacement, migration, tourism, gentrification
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


New trends on migration from North to South are acting on the local development strategies of cities in the Global South. Urban and cultural policies adapt the city in order to respond to the lifestyle expectations of transnational middle classes (Zaban, 2017). Thus the presence of foreign populations, as expatriated or visitors, has a strong impact on the social restructuring processes of the cities. In some cases their existence becomes a positive influence to the construction of a prestigious cultural image in terms of an urban marketing. However as migrants or tourist with higher purchasing power they might replace original inhabitants and traditional users in those places (Hayes, 2018). This study explores the case of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Methodologically, this paper adopts a qualitative approach and analyses the cultural image produced by urban policies based on lifestyle migration and tourism. Historical files of cultural (1980-2018), urban and economics policies were consulted to demonstrate how the local, national and international institutions had promoted displacement through urban renovation and touristic development of heritage sites. This analysis reveals an urban transformation process linked to the cultural values of the transnational middle class as lifestyle migrants (leisure, tourism, culture and consumption). I propose that state-led gentrification leads to a transnationalization of real state, evidenced by luxury housing, boutique hotels, art galleries and other high culture spaces. This gentrification is inherent to the limitation of the right to the city, for local low-income groups as indigenous people particularly women and street vendors.

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