The Maya Identity as a Commodity in San Jose Succotz and San Cristóbal Mexico

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After the Second World War mass tourism has increased worldwide and has affected almost all countries. Mexico has become a ‘major tourist destination’ and also ethic tourism has taken off, because tourists became more interested in the indigenous cultures and search for authenticity. Nowadays ethnic tourism makes up ‘10% of Mexico’s tourism sector’ (Van Den Berghe 568). This essay will especially examine the commoditisation of the Maya identity; Maya was ‘a highly developed Mesoamerican culture centred in the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico’ (McKay et al 307). Over the last two decades Western tourists have become interested in Indian cultures, traditions and artefacts and they would like to see ‘living Maya culture’, therefore tour guides, tourees, middlemen and artisans have started to work in the ethnic tourism sector. According to Medina ‘The commoditization of culture for tourism may involve the utilization of new channels to access cultural traditions of great antiquity’ (354). To illustrate this: only 20.5% of the inhabitants of San Jose Succotz identifies with the Maya culture (Medina 360). Maya culture is less available through lived experience, because Maya languages and rituals disappear, therefore villagers working in the ethnic tourism sector have to gain knowledge by utilizing other, new channels. Ethic tourism often develops around archaeological sites; tour guides will take tourists to Maya ruins and transfer knowledge that they had gained from the ethnographers, archaeologists, and epigraphers (Medina 362). Some people argue that this ‘staged culture’ is not similar to the ‘authentic culture’. It might be possible that the culture transferred to the tourists at the moment is different from the way Mayans used to do. H... ... middle of paper ... ...e Succotz and San Cristobal is depending on the tourists. Works Cited Barker, Chris. ‘Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice’. SAGE Publications 4th edition 2012 Breglia, Lisa C. ‘Mayas in the Marketplace: Tourism, Globalization and Cultural Identity by Walter E Little’. Wesleyan University, USA. 2004. Van Den Berghe, Piere L. 1992. ‘Tourism and the ethnic division of labour’. University of Washington, USA. pp 234-249 Van Den Berghe, Piere L. 1995. ‘Marketing Mayas – Ethnic Tourism Promotion in Mexico’ University of Washington, USA. pp 568-588 Little, Walter E. 2004 ‘Performing Tourism: Maya Women's Strategies’ Austin: University of Texas, 2004. McKay et al. 2012 ‘A History of World Societies’ Ninth Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, USA. Medina, Laurie Kroshus. 2003 ‘Commoditizing Culture – Tourism and Maya Identity’. Michigan State University, USA. pp 353-368

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes the commoditisation of the maya identity, which is a dynamic and changing entity.
  • Explains that ethnic tourism is a phenomenon closely related to the commoditisation of culture, which is defined as cultural products and practices are offered for money.
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