Holiday in Mexico

Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters

Holiday in Mexico

American Encounters/Global Interactions

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Book Pages: 408 Illustrations: 17 illustrations Published: February 2010

General Interest > Travel, History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Mexico

With its archaeological sites, colonial architecture, pristine beaches, and alluring cities, Mexico has long been an attractive destination for travelers. The tourist industry ranks third in contributions to Mexico’s gross domestic product and provides more than 5 percent of total employment nationwide. Holiday in Mexico takes a broad historical and geographical look at Mexico, covering tourist destinations from Tijuana to Acapulco and the development of tourism from the 1840s to the present day. Scholars in a variety of fields offer a complex and critical view of tourism in Mexico by examining its origins, promoters, and participants.

Essays feature research on prototourist American soldiers of the mid-nineteenth century, archaeologists who excavated Teotihuacán, business owners who marketed Carnival in Veracruz during the 1920s, American tourists in Mexico City who promoted goodwill during the Second World War, American retirees who settled San Miguel de Allende, restaurateurs who created an “authentic” cuisine of Central Mexico, indigenous market vendors of Oaxaca who shaped the local tourist identity, Mayan service workers who migrated to work in Cancun hotels, and local officials who vied to develop the next “it” spot in Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas. Including insightful studies on food, labor, art, diplomacy, business, and politics, this collection illuminates the many processes and individuals that constitute the tourism industry. Holiday in Mexico shows tourism to be a complicated set of interactions and outcomes that reveal much about the nature of economic, social, cultural, and environmental change in Greater Mexico over the past two centuries.

Contributors. Dina Berger, Andrea Boardman, Christina Bueno, M. Bianet Castellanos, Mary K. Coffey, Lisa Pinley Covert, Barbara Kastelein, Jeffrey Pilcher, Andrew Sackett, Alex Saragoza, Eric M. Schantz, Andrew Grant Wood


Holiday in Mexico offers students of contemporary Mexican history and culture an important account of the development and transformation of a national and regional tourist industry in Mexico.” — Joanne Hershfield, Journal of Latin American Studies

“This collection of essays is a welcome addition to the burgeoning number of histories of tourism. Until recently, the field has focused mostly onNorth America and Europe, as well as American and European travelers in the colonies. . . . Holiday in Mexico begins to remedy this problem. . . . Both historians of Mexico and historians of tourism read this book.” — Catherine Cocks, The Latin Americanist

Holiday in Mexico is a benchmark contribution to Latin American, tourism and cultural studies and is must-read for both the serious scholar and the casual traveler. Don't leave home without it!” — Joseph L. Scarpaci, Journal of Latin American Geography

Holiday in Mexico is an indispensable collection of essays dealing with the evolution of both Mexican tourism and tourist interactions in Mexico. . . . 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.” — Evan Ward, The Americas

“A diverse collection of specific tourism histories that tell as much about international politics between the United States and Mexico as about tourism in Mexico. . . . By considering tourism development as representative of power relations — between states, between tourists and hosts, and among politicians and businesspersons — the authors here deepen our knowledge of the history of tourism in Mexico.” — Walter E. Little, Hispanic American Historical Review

“Certainly, as such a large part of Mexico’s economy, the tourist industry is here to stay. In staking out a rich and detailed history of that industry, the contributors to this collection have provided a major contribution to efforts to make that industry more ethical, humane, and stable for the communities it affects.” — Michael Ennis, Ethnohistory

“Given Mexico’s current tourism crisis, Holiday in Mexico is a timely collection that considers the development of tourism from the mid nineteenth century to the present from a variety of methodological perspectives. Beyond making a worthwhile contribution to historians of Mexico, the anthology is a valuable addition to the growing field of tourism studies.” — Dominique Brégent-Heald, H-Travel, H-Net Reviews

“The appeal of this book goes much deeper than its titular concern with tourism. Scholars should be interested in this book for its nuanced dealings with political economic aspects of Mexico precisely because it does not treat any of the myriad of social actors, Mexican or Other, as ‘the bad guy’ in an overblown tortilla Western. Instead, the authors carefully and thoughtfully extricate the complex relations in each locale around Mexico. . .” — Thomas F. Carter, Bulletin of Latin American Research

“An innovative, engaging, and at times irreverent interdisciplinary examination of virtually every aspect of tourism in Mexico. This collection sheds new light on the history of tourism, as well as its role in spurring economic development, creating a national image, and even spreading political corruption. As such, it will be welcomed by serious scholars of modern Mexico and serious travelers to Mexico alike.” — Ben Fallaw, author of Cárdenas Compromised: The Failure of Reform in Postrevolutionary Yucatán

“This is an extraordinarily important treatment of Mexico’s cultural history.” — John Mason Hart, author of Empire and Revolution: The Americans in Mexico since the Civil War


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Dina Berger is Assistant Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of The Development and Promotion of Mexico’s Tourism Industry: Pyramids by Day, Martinis by Night.

Andrew Grant Wood is Associate Professor of History at University of Tulsa. He is the author of Revolution in the Street: Women, Workers, and Urban Protest in Veracruz, 1870–1927, and the editor of The Borderlands: An Encyclopedia of Culture and Politics on the U.S.–Mexico Divide.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Tourism Studies and the Tourism Dilemma / Dina Berger and Andrew Grant Wood 1

The U.S.-Mexican War and the Beginnings of American Tourism in Mexico / Andrea Boardman 21

Teotihuacán: Showcase for the Centennial / Christina Bueno 54

On the Selling of Rey Momo: Early Tourism and the Marketing of Carnival in Veracruz / Andrew Grant Wood 77

Goodwill Ambassadors on Holiday: Tourism, Diplomacy, and Mexico-United States Relations / Dina Berger 107

Behind the Noir Border: Tourism, the Vice Racket, and Power Relations in Baja California's Border Zone, 1938–65 / Eric M. Schantz 130

Fun in Acapulco? The Politics of Development on the Mexican Riviera / Andrew Sackett 161

Colonial Outpost to Artists' Mecca: Conflict and Collaboration in the Development of San Miguel de Allende's Tourism Industry / Lisa Pinley Covert 183

José Cuervo and the Gentrified Worm: Food, Drink, and the Touristic Consumption of Mexico / Jeffrey M. Pilcher 221

Cancún and the Campo: Indigenous Migration and Tourism Development in the Yucatán Peninsula / M. Bianet Castellanos 241

Marketing Mexico's Great Masters: Folk Art Tourism and the Neoliberal Politics of Exhibition / Mary K. Coffey 265

Golfing in the Desert: Los Cabos and Post-PRI Tourism in Mexico / Alex M. Saragoza 295

The Beach and Beyond: Observations from a Travel Writer on Dreams, Decadence, and Defense / Barbara Kastelein 320

Conclusion: Should We Stay or Should We Go? Reflections on Tourism Past and Present / Andrew Grant Wood and Dina Berger 371

Contributors 385

Index 387
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4571-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4554-1
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