Heritage Politics, Colonial Imaginaries, Indigenous Luxury Tourism

 

This line of my research has critically engaged with the understanding of the discourses and practices used by governments and developers to define cultural heritage and how they clash, cohere or collaborate with organized civil struggles around access to housing, mobility and spatial justice. My research and ethnographic work in this area is a result of a collaborative and interdisciplinary Research Group at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid: “Territorio, Desarrollo y Cultura”, Facultad de Geografía e Historia.

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My current research in this area explores the limitations of luxury tourism as a culturally responsible and sustainable development tool in Southern Mexico. Through ethnographic research on the restoration of ex-henequen haciendas into indigenous luxury gateways for the global elite, I have studied luxury tourism’s dependence on the crafting and staging of European representations and domestications of tropical nature, as well as on the reproduction of gendered and racialized encounters with Maya indigenous populations. This research points at the centrality of the material dimensions of tourism landscapes to the production of social life as well as the everyday intricacies of the engineering of cultural heritage through public-private alliances.