Tourism, cultural heritage and the emergence of indigenous alter-ego identities

Authors: Adrián Cetina Catzín*, Florida International University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Cultural Geography, Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: Tourism, Cultural Heritage, Identity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Maryland B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The model of development adopted by the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and the policies that
have derived from it, have prioritized tourism. Nonetheless, the policies leading this growth have
originated contrasting social and economic breaches that arise from practices of
commodification that alienate and control, natural resources, material and immaterial cultural
heritage. Being the main economic activity in the state, Maya communities have found in
tourism a more stable source of income and employment, however, their engagement with this
industry has involved the internalization and reproduction of practices of culture
commodification. Thus, questions about the effects of tourism over Maya communities, and
indigenous communities in general, become more important, not only in terms of bringing light
to the implications of their participation with such practices, but also to understand how those
actions affect the way in how Mayas interact and experience their cultural heritage; how these
interactions affect the ways in how Mayas define their identity, and their relationship with their
land as well. Within this context this presentation focuses on the ways in which Mayas engage
with tourism, the encounters they have with stereotyped representations of their own culture
heritage and identity, how the interplay with these representations may be shifting
understandings of contemporary Maya identity among the broader indigenous and non-
indigenous population, and how it may also be contributing to the emergence of new dynamics
of identity formation and local alter-ego identities.

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