Tourism and Gentrification in the Land of Enchantment: The Discourses of Capital and Colonialism in Early Twentieth-Century Santa Fe, New Mexico

Authors: Nina Roberts*, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: gentrification, tourism, industrial capitalism, colonialism, urban planning, American Southwest, New Mexico, indigenous peoples
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Jefferson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this investigation, I present a case study proposing that tourism and gentrification connected in Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the era of industrial capitalism. Santa Fe’s gentrification of the 1980s and 1990s is well known, as is the fact that its transformation was, and continues to be, inextricably entwined with tourism. It is less well known, however, that the physical and social structures underlying this transformation are the continuation of a process that began in the early twentieth century, when Santa Fe was reinvented as a tourist destination to promote economic development. Using the work of David Harvey (2006) and József Böröcz (1992) as a theoretical basis, I employ a discourse analysis of 90 archival articles published in Santa Fe’s local newspaper between 1900 and 1930 to explore the city’s development as an art and tourist mecca during the first three decades of the century. This intentional process, incorporating city planning, historic preservation, and colonial ideologies, radically altered the city’s identity and, I argue, began a century-long process of tourism gentrification that has continued from the industrial to the post-industrial era. This study challenges the gentrification literature, which places the emergence of gentrification in the 1950s to 1960s and situates the development of tourism gentrification in the 1990s as an outgrowth of neoliberal economic policy. Rather, the evidence suggests that tourism and gentrification emerged from industrial capitalism and connected in early 20th-century Santa Fe, nearly three-quarters of a century before the advent of neoliberalism.

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