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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Product details

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

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"M. Bianet Castellanos introduces us to Mayas serving in the tourist meccas of the Yucatan where their ancestors built the temples and pyramids that draw people from all over the world. As they refashion their lives in the playgrounds of transnational tourists she reveals how they are acquiring new notions of personhood and gender, leaving behind the old markers of dress and language as they negotiate and sometimes resist neoliberal premises." June Nash, author of "Mayan Visions: The Quest for Autonomy in an Age of Globalization""

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About M. Bianet Castellanos

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

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