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Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters

    Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters

    Publication: The Americas
    Author: Ward, Evan
    Date published: October 1, 2010

    1. “The U.S.-Mexican War and the Beginnings of American Tourism in Mexico.”: Andrea Boardman; 2. “Teotihuacan: Showcase for the Centennial.”: Christina Bueno; 3. “On the Selling of Rey Momo: Early Tourism and the Marketing of Carnival in Veracruz.”: Andrew G. Wood; 4. “Goodwill Ambassadors on Holiday: Tourism, Diplomacy and Mexico-U.S. Relations.”: Dina Berger; 5. “Behind the Noir Border: Tourism, the Vice Racket and Power Relations in Baja California’s Border Zone, 1938-1965.”: Eric M. Schantz; 6. “Fun in Acapulco? The Politics of Development on the Mexican Riviera.”: Andrew Sackett; 7. “Colonial Outpost to Artists’ Mecca: Conflict and Collaboration in the Development of San Miguel de Allende’s Tourism Industry.”: Lisa Pinley Covert; 8. “Jose Cuervo and the Gentrified Worm: Food, Drink and the Touristic Consumption of Mexico.”: Jeffrey Pilcher; 9. “Cancun and the Campo: Indigenous Migration and Tourism Development in the Yucatan Peninsula.”: M. Bianet Castellanos; 10. “Marketing Mexico’s Great Masters: Folk Art Tourism and the Neoliberal Politics of Exhibition.”: Mary K. Coffey; 11. “Golfing in the Desert: Los Cabos and Post-PRI Tourism in Mexico”: Alex M. Saragoza; 12. “The Beach and Beyond: The Beach and Beyond: Reflections from a Travel Writer on Dreams, Decadence and Defense.”: Barbara Kastelein; Conclusion: “Should We Stay or Should We Go? Reflections on Tourism Past and Present.”: Andrew G. Wood and Dina Berger

    “ … Barbara Kastelein’s “The Beach and Beyond” provides an elegant investigative coda to the collection, as she travels from Acapulco to Oaxaca to Amecameca (state of Mexico) reflecting on the nature of tourist encounters in Mexico.”

    Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters. Edited by Dina Berger and Andrew Grant Wood. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010. Pp. ix, 393. Contributors. Index. $89.95 cloth; $24.95 paper.

    Holiday in Mexico is an indispensable collection of essays dealing with the evolution of both Mexican tourism and tourist interactions in Mexico. Grounded in imaginative methodological approaches and cast from a variety of disciplines, the volume offers the most conclusive account to date of tourism as a part of Mexican history and society. Dina Berger and Andrew Grant Wood have elegandy edited the essays and organized them in chronological order, which works well for articulating tourism studies as a field that belongs front and center in die broader field of Mexican Studies. While the volume collectively assesses the development of tourism in Mexico, the authors are also well aware of the power relationships inherent in tourism, namely that between visitors and hosts, as well as between developers, the state, and the Mexican populace at large. As the editors note in their conclusion, “Taken as a whole, the contributors in Holiday in Mexico attempt to . . . detail the different manifestations of social power in a way that does not necessarily view tourism in pejorative terms but sees it as a growing industry encompassing a wide range of social interactions over time and space” (p. 373).

    Thematically, Holiday in Mexico is replete with articles dealing with seminal topics in Mexican tourism. Andrea Boardman links early tourism in Mexico to the experiences of U.S. soldiers during the U. S. -Mexican War. Christina Bueno examines the Porfirian reconstruction of Teotihuacan for the centenary celebration of Mexico’s independence in 1910. In an important essay on domestic tourism, Andrew Grant Wood explores the predominantly regional and national significance of Carnival celebrations in Veracruz. Eric Schantz contributes a significant article on horse racing and gaming in the post-Cardenas era in Tijuana, extending our understanding of the legacy of gambling there. Andrew Sackett explores the power relations and developmental disparities in the evolution of Acapulco’s tourism infrastructure against the backdrop of the less-publicized community. Jeffrey M. Pilcher examines transformations in gastronomic tourism. As with many of the selections, Alex M. Saragoza’s essay on the ill-fated Escalera Náutica and resort development in Los Cabos offers insight to critical areas of Mexican tourism that have not previously been treated outside of the journalistic arena.

    Finally, Barbara Kastelein’s “The Beach and Beyond” provides an elegant investigative coda to the collection, as she travels from Acapulco to Oaxaca to Amecameca (state of Mexico) reflecting on the nature of tourist encounters in Mexico.

    The essays also offer readers a rich variety of methodological approaches to tourism development and tourist encounters. Dina Berger, for example, considers tourism in midtwentieth-century Mexico through the lens of public diplomacy, offering a hopeful alternative to the insensitive ravages of mass tourism. Lisa Pinky Covert’s intriguing essay on the evolution of tourism in San Miguel de Allende explores the rendering of a city with a turbulent history into one that could become representative of Mexican culture. Cultural anthropologist M. Bianet Castellanos probes the attitudes and perceptions of Kuchmil natives (denominated “the native gaze”) in the southeastern corner of Yucatán state towards Cancun’s meteoric growth. Finally, Mary K. Coffey’s imaginative study explores the intersection between the politico-economic posture of the neoliberal Mexican state and folk art production.

    Two threads unify the collection into a cohesive volume. First, the authors are cognizant of the measures, both legal and illegal, of state actors in promoting tourism. This will continue to serve as a vital organizing theme in the study of Mexican tourism, particularly in cases where multiple government agencies (such as FONATUR and INAH) are simultaneously involved with individual projects. Second, the preponderant impact of U.S. tourists in Mexico reinforces the well-documented asymmetrical interdependence of the two nations’ economies and evolving hybrid cultures (though greater light remains to be shed upon the impact of European tourists and developers). In conclusion, Holiday in Mexico is a highly readable, intellectually important contribution to the field of Latin American Studies and will likely be a starting point for future tourism studies not just in Mexico, but also throughout the hemisphere. It is also highly recommended for university courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    Author affiliation:
    Brigham Young University EVAN WARD
    Provo, Utah

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    English, Duke University Press, USA, Jan 2010.