Return to Servitude

Return to Servitude : Maya Migration and the Tourist Trade in Cancun

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As a free trade zone and Latin America's most popular destination, Cancun, Mexico, is more than just a tourist town. It is not only actively involved in the production of transnational capital but also forms an integral part of the state's modernization plan for rural, indigenous communities. Indeed, Maya migrants make up over a third of the city's population. "A Return to Servitude" is an ethnography of Maya migration within Mexico that analyzes the foundational role indigenous peoples play in the development of the modern nation-state. Focusing on tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula, M. Bianet Castellanos examines how Cancun came to be equated with modernity, how this city has shaped the political economy of the peninsula, and how indigenous communities engage with this vision of contemporary life. More broadly, she demonstrates how indigenous communities experience, resist, and accommodate themselves to transnational capitalism. Tourism and the social stratification that results from migration have created conflict among the Maya. At the same time, this work asserts, it is through engagement with modernity and its resources that they are able to maintain their sense of indigeneity and community."

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  • Paperback | 296 pages
  • 139.7 x 213.36 x 22.86mm | 362.87g
  • 18 Nov 2010
  • University of Minnesota Press
  • Minneapolis
  • English
  • 10 b&w illustrations
  • 0816656150
  • 9780816656158

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Author Information

M. Bianet Castellanos is assistant professor of American studies at the University of Minnesota.

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Review quote

"Weaving Avery Gordon's notion of haunting with theories of transnationalism and modernity, M. Bianet Castellanos argues that the cultural and material shifts that accompany Maya migration for work in CancUn's tourism industry enable negotiation, accommodation, and even resistance to Mexico's neoliberal reforms. "A Return to Servitude" dismantles romantic representations of tourism and illustrates vividly how the Maya struggle to survive." --Patricia Zavella, UC-Santa Cruz

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