Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters

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Overview

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

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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

“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

“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

“[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

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

“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

“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

Joseph L. Scarpaci
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!”
Evan Ward
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.”
Walter E. Little
“[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.”
Dominique Brégent-Heald
“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.”
Thomas F. Carter
“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. . .”
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Product Details

Meet the Author

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.

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Read an Excerpt

HOLIDAY IN MEXICO

Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters

Duke University Press

Copyright © 2010 Duke University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8223-4571-8


Chapter One

ANDREA BOARDMAN

THE U.S.-MEXICAN WAR AND THE BEGINNINGS OF AMERICAN TOURISM IN MEXICO

Tourism and war seem an unlikely combination: the bloody cost of combat and the playful serendipity of touring do not easily come together in our historical imagination. Yet soldiers in foreign lands witness more than battles. When responsibilities shift from fighting the enemy to occupying ports, towns, and cities, a natural human curiosity nudges them to explore their surroundings. They soon find themselves becoming a strange kind of hybrid "soldier-and-tourist," like the young Army clerk John Meginness in Mexico City when he "examined the museum and found a large collection of interesting curiosities," and Captain E. Kirby Smith, who thought that Puebla's cathedral was "the richest and most beautiful in the entire New World," or Captain Simon Bolivar Buckner, who climbed Popocatépetl, the majestic volcano on the rim of the Valley of Mexico and exclaimed how "we beheld the most remarkable of that mountain chain which stretches, in a glittering belt, from the Gulf to the Pacific Ocean."

In this sense, the experiences of these nineteenth-century soldiers are not so different from those of modern American tourists. "Whether in 1800 or 2000," writes one historian of tourism, "observers found in Mexico a stunning degree of ethnic and regional diversity as well as a dizzying array of apparent contradiction: urban vs. rural, modernity vs. tradition and rich vs. poor." This essay argues that more than 110,000 Americans who went to war in Mexico in the years 1846-48 were the first generation of Americans who in large numbers spent a concentrated time in dramatically diverse parts of Mexico. And although their sojourn on foreign soil was defined by the harshness and unspeakable violence of war, these soldiers nevertheless often found themselves awed by the landscapes, the array of lifestyles, and the rich history they found in Mexico. Many wrote about their experiences during and after the war, sharing their wonderment at the landscape and antiquities and descriptions of people and places, to the extent that these soldier-tourists kept Mexico's attractions in the American imagination for several decades. By the mid-1880s, when two international railroad lines connected Mexico City with El Paso and Laredo, American tourists began to travel to Mexico. In less than forty years, then, the sites that soldiers had marveled at would become "must-see" places and activities on itineraries designed for tourists. By then business and government interests in the United States and Mexico were eager to find ways to work together. As part of this effort, President Porfirio Díaz saw the potential of U.S. tourism and made its development a priority.

The historical impact of these soldier-tourists' experiences for an understanding of modern tourism has surfaced thanks to a range of richly documented studies that connect the soldiers of the U.S.-Mexican War to such major themes as Manifest Destiny, adventurism, and views of masculinity in the nineteenth century. The list includes James McCaffrey's Army of Manifest Destiny: The American Soldier in the Mexican War, 1846-1848; Bruce Winder's Mr. Polk's Army: The American Military Experience in the Mexican War; and the more recent work by Amy Greenberg, Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire, and by Jimmy L. Bryan, The American Elsewhere: Adventurism and Manliness in the Age of Expansion, 1815-1848. These scholars, along with others I cite throughout this essay, tapped into the wealth of material written by and about the soldiers and the society in which they were formed. Building on their work, I seek to reach beyond it by attempting to situate U.S. soldiers' war experiences against the background of a budding tourism to Mexico, even as I remain mindful of the terrible cost in civilian and military lives that helped to initiate this cultural shift.

An Overview of the War

The war that initiated the soldiers' travels to Mexico had tremendous consequences for both countries as well as for the international balance of power. The Treaty of Adams-On? in 1819 included in Mexico's domain the land that is today New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, the southern sections of Colorado and Utah, as well as California. With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, which ended the U.S.-Mexican War, Mexico ceded all of that land-529,017 square miles-to the United States in exchange for $15 million. This is described in several thoughtful studies, including The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon, and the Mexican War by David M. Pletcher, who lays out the international context in which the United States pursued this war.

The prologue to war began with the Texas Revolution and the defeat of the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, followed by Texas's declaration of independence in 1836. The Mexican government could not accept the loss of Texas. Political tensions between Mexico and the United States intensified further when James K. Polk campaigned for the presidency in 1844, asserting that his goals included the annexation of Texas and, by any means, the acquisition of California, particularly San Francisco Bay, because it was the perfect seaport for Pacific trade. Polk knew that achieving these goals would risk war with Mexico. When he was elected, Texans did vote to be annexed to the United States-and Mexico was ready to declare war, even though its defenses on the northern frontier were extremely vulnerable, as documented by numerous works, including David J. Weber's The Spanish Frontier in North America and The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846: The American Southwest under Mexico.

In late November 1845, Polk's emissary arrived in Mexico City with an offer to buy the provinces of Nuevo México and California, including San Francisco Bay, and settle the Texas question, but a presidential crisis in Mexico City made it impossible for the offer to be considered. Polk then ratcheted up the pressure on Mexico by ordering General Zachary Taylor to establish a U.S. Army base in south Texas on the Gulf coast at the mouth of the Nueces River, while the Mexican army stationed itself near Matamoros on the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte). Both nations claimed the territory between the two rivers as theirs. In March 1846, General Taylor marched into that territory and headed for the Rio Grande, fueling the fire for war. On April 25 when a U.S. scouting party and Mexican troops clashed, Taylor wrote to President Polk that "hostilities have commenced," but before his letter arrived in Washington, the armies started fighting. After the second day's battle, tactically Taylor could declare victory, but strategically it was a draw.

With these two days of battle, which became known as Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, named after the areas in which they were fought, the human toll of the war became real, as soldiers and citizens, Mexican and American, confronted loss, pain, and death. Another reality of this war was that over the next two years disease and accidents would kill far more than the battles would. Two historians, Irving W. Levinson and Richard Bruce Winders, focus on these costs of war as well as the context for this suffering. In Wars within War: Mexican Guerrillas, Domestic Elites, and the United States of America, 1846-1848, Levinson explains how the complicated social and political situations in Mexico before and during the war led to battles between different forces within the country as well as against the invaders. In April 1847 while serving as substitute president of Mexico, Pedro María Anaya signed a decree to establish volunteer forces commissioned to operate within various geographic areas. Their mission was to attack U.S. troops. "Having failed to hold the enemy at the frontiers or confine the invader to the coastal plain, the Mexican government would now wage guerrilla war in central Mexico," Levinson concluded. Complicating Mexican defense actions, however, were "agrarian-based revolts against the Mexican government ... in many parts of the nation." Levinson describes a sorrowful situation: "The Mexican government confronted both an invader advancing upon the national capital and an internal foe of increasing strength. To this bloody mélange-federally sanctioned partisans, spontaneously emerging local guerrilla groups attacking U.S. forces, peasants rebelling against the Mexican government, and regular armies of two nations fighting each other-can be added another consideration: the extent to which many Mexicans divorced themselves from the war effort."

While Levinson details events within Mexico, in Mr. Polk's Army Richard Bruce Winders describes the way in which the U.S. Army took shape. General Zachary Taylor had gathered 3,900 regular troops at Corpus Christi: five regiments of infantry, four regiments of artillery, and one regiment of dragoons. Polk asked Congress for 50,000 volunteer citizen soldiers from each state and territory, 20,000 from the western and southern states, and 30,000 to be held in reserve until needed. Those in Taylor's Army of the North marched with him on his campaign to defeat the cities of Monterrey (Nuevo Le?) and Saltillo (Coahuila). Those with the Army of the West under the command of Brigadier General Stephen Kearny marched from St. Louis, Missouri, along the Santa Fe Trail, the main commercial route into Mexico's Nuevo México, where they took control of Santa Fe on August 18. By the end of 1846 and early 1847, Taylor's army was in control of Mexico's northeastern states, which secured the U.S. control of newly annexed Texas, and Kearny's army, with the help of the U.S. Navy and Marines, had taken control of the key ports and towns of California.

Even though the U.S. forces had won key battles assuring Polk's goals of gaining control of Texas, its southern border, Nuevo México, and California, he still needed the Mexican government to make the U.S. claim on these lands official. To accomplish that, however, he faced a perplexing situation. The Mexican government was in crisis with no leader in a strong enough position to sign a treaty ceding these lands to the United States. Polk decided to increase the pressure by ordering General Winfield Scott to begin his campaign from the Gulf of Mexico toward the Valley of Mexico. Scott landed his troops at Veracruz in early March 1847. When city leaders refused to surrender, he ordered the city bombed until they did. In early April Scott gave the command for his troops to begin moving inland toward Mexico City. General Antonio López de Santa Anna led his troops against them at Cerro Gordo, near Xalapa. The U.S. troops successfully outmaneuvered them and the results were disastrous. The Mexican army disbanded and Santa Anna fled.

Scott decided to station his troops in Xalapa and wait for news about Mexico City and orders from Washington. In the meantime British diplomats assisted with negotiations to try to get Mexican leaders to approve a treaty that would include the U.S. annexation of Texas and relinquish Nuevo México as well as northern and southern California. It soon became clear, however, that there was no hope of a treaty while in Xalapa, so Scott once again tried to increase the pressure for a treaty by marching first to Puebla and then into the Valley of Mexico. After another series of battles, Nicholas Trist, the U.S. negotiator, met with several Mexican leaders in August 1847 but quickly realized that they were not empowered to make a treaty. This failure led to the final battles of the war, which ended with the U.S. Army beating back Santa Anna's troops all the way into the Zócalo, the central plaza of Mexico City. Santa Anna withdrew toward Puebla, leaving Mexico City's leaders to surrender on September 14, 1847.

For the next four and a half months, U.S. troops were stationed in Mexico City. Others occupied Puebla, Xalapa, and Veracruz to the east, and up north, Taylor's army was spread from Saltillo to Monterrey and Tampico, working with city leaders to keep control. Although their presence as occupiers was felt, they were far outnumbered by Mexicans in each place. Then the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848, and a transformation began: a shift in the status of the soldiers, many of whom became soldier-tourists in their free time, and a shift in the daily ways Mexican citizens interacted with them. Whether in the capital or in smaller cities the soldiers walked around, observing the daily living of different classes of Mexicans, listening to Spanish and indigenous languages, witnessing the practice of Catholicism, tasting new foods, and learning the effect of the alcohol content of tequila and mescal. They were awed by some of the architecture and evidence of ancient cultures. They visited museums, historic places, and markets. They went on adventures in the countryside, including trips to archaeological sites; they climbed volcanoes and explored caves. They sent home souvenirs, including things they bought, bartered, or took. They were behaving more and more like tourists, although sporadic violence by troops or citizens reminded them they were first and foremost soldiers. One noted: "I venture to assert that there is not one of us to whom the service in Mexico is not a recollection surpassing in interest the most brilliant operation of the Rebellion." The historian Bruce Winders wrote that Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hur, served in Mexico as a young man. With enthusiam, this soldier-tourist marveled that "Mexico was a strange land to us all, and full of novelties."

On June 12, 1848, the U.S. flag was lowered and the Mexican flag raised in the Zócalo, the main plaza of Mexico City. The war was officially over and the new treaty would shape the two countries' future relations. In the spring and early summer, soldiers left the capital and other Mexican cities where they had been stationed and headed home. During the course of the war they had traversed historically significant land routes, which would become highways and railways in the years ahead. The country had left its mark on them, as it would for future generations of foreigners.

The "Tourist Gaze" of Soldiers

As a way of exploring how the U.S. soldiers in this war at times became a blend of tourist and soldier, it is helpful to stand in their shoes as they considered their surroundings and interacted with residents. The title of a well-known book on tourism, Seeing and Being Seen, resonates with the experience of U.S. soldiers in Mexico. They were unmistakably "being seen," as they moved in groups large and small. To Mexicans they stood out because of their uniforms, weapons, ethnicity, and language. At the same time, U.S. forces cast their own gaze upon the Mexican landscape and people. In the literature on tourism much has been written about the "tourist gaze," a term used to describe a tourist's relationship with the people living in the area being visited. One scholar explains that "the gaze in any historical period is constructed in relationship to its opposite, to non-tourist forms of social experience and consciousness ... particularly those based within the home and paid work." This was true for U.S. soldiers in Mexico. They were fascinated with daily life in Mexico, constantly comparing how similar activities were performed back home. Another scholar offers a more complex framework: "the imperial gaze, the male gaze, and the tourist gaze." Certainly the American soldiers in Mexico viewed their surroundings from all three of these perspectives.

The Mexicans they encountered viewed the soldiers in a guarded way, men who were the "other," invaders, different in race, ethnicity, physical appearance, language, uniforms, and weapons. During battles, marches, and the occupation, no one doubted they were soldiers in an invading army. But, especially during the occupation, when American soldiers and Mexican civilians began to interact, they could find some common ground in the course of their daily activities. As U.S. soldiers and Mexicans tried to communicate, a general ignorance of each other's language and culture was a source of frustration for both sides and an obstacle for U.S. soldiers who wanted to learn more about Mexico from Mexicans. Without the ability to speak Spanish, soldiers had to try to deduce what was happening around them, so they had to rely on each other for information, much of which was drawn from the books they carried and what was quoted from those books in the military newspapers. It was a clumsy, curious, yet stimulating time.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from HOLIDAY IN MEXICO Copyright © 2010 by Duke University Press. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................1
Introduction: Tourism Studies and the Tourism Dilemma DINA BERGER AND ANDREW GRANT WOOD....................21
The U.S.-Mexican War and the Beginnings of American Tourism in Mexico ANDREA BOARDMAN....................54
Teotihuacán: Showcase for the Centennial CHRISTINA BUENO....................77
On the Selling of Rey Momo: Early Tourism and the Marketing of Carnival in Veracruz ANDREW GRANT WOOD....................107
Goodwill Ambassadors on Holiday: Tourism, Diplomacy, and Mexico-U.S. Relations DINA BERGER....................130
Behind the Noir Border: Tourism, the Vice Racket, and Power Relations in Baja California's Border Zone, 1938-65 ERIC M. SCHANTZ....................161
Fun in Acapulco? The Politics of Development on the Mexican Riviera ANDREW SACKETT....................183
Colonial Outpost to Artists' Mecca: Conflict and Collaboration in the Development of San Miguel de Allende's Tourist Industry LISA PINLEY COVERT....................221
José Cuervo and the Gentrified Worm: Food, Drink, and the Touristic Consumption of Mexico JEFFREY M. PILCHER....................241
Cancúm and the Campo: Indigenous Migration and Tourism Development in the Yucatán Peninsula M. BIANET CASTELLANOS....................265
Marketing Mexico's Great Masters: Folk Art Tourism and the Neoliberal Politics of Exhibition MARY K. COFFEY....................295
Golfing in the Desert: Los Cabos and Post-PRI Tourism in Mexico ALEX M. SARAGOZA....................320
The Beach and Beyond: Observations from a Travel Writer on Dreams, Decadence, and Defense BARBARA KASTELEIN....................371
Conclusion: Should We Stay or Should We Go? Reflections on Tourism Past and Present ANDREW GRANT WOOD AND DINA BERGER....................385
Contributors....................387
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