Accepted paper:

Imagining the West: tourism, media and indigenous youth in Chiapas


Marie Heřmanová (Czech Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper is based on a long-term field research in a south-mexican city and explores the relationship between mobility, media and imagination from the standpoint of those who never move, but have to deal with both real and virtual images of their dream destination.

Paper long abstract:

The paper follows the ways in which young indigenous people living at the suburbs of the mexican city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas develop imageries of what it means to be "modern" and "urban" youth in order to negotiate their cultural identity. These imageries are based on their everyday interactions with tourist and other global nomads in the city centre as well as on images from electronic media and social network communication. Based on an extended fieldwork among young indigenous people in San Cristóbal, the paper explores the process of creating a landscape of "imaginary West" (based on the notion of Alexei Yurchak, 2005), unseen yet ever-present homeland of the tourists and, most importantly, a place where "better lives" happen. The landscape of imaginary West creates a strong sense of belonging among those who long to move, but have never left the their homeland city. An attempt is thus made throughout the paper to look at migration and global movement from the standpoint of those who never move and to conceptualize the relationship between migration and media as an imaginative process, where the media (in this case, electronic media) serve as "technologies of imagination" ( Sneath, Holbraad & Pedersen, 2009).

panel P60
Between the mediation of diversity and the diversity of mediations: considerations on contemporary world circulations, belongings and contours