Accepted paper:

Contested Shrines: Tourism and religion in Western Mexico.


Alejandra Aguilar Ros (CIESAS (Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social))

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses issues on tourism and its relation to religion and the idea of national heritage in the area of Occidente de Mexico (Western Mexico)

Paper long abstract:

The paper will explore the different forms that take tourism in holy places, particularly in Western Mexico. Religious sanctuaries hold important cultural and spiritual significance in Mexico; pilgrimages, the movement of people towards them, have already being regarded in part as local tourism enjoyed by pilgrims and their families. However, it is important to explore how tourism is now enhanced by complex processes which involve state policies and the transformation of Catholicism in present Mexico. Some of these transformations have to do with public policies developing regional tourism based in religious heritage, that wish to launch sanctuaries as touristic places in order to enhance local and regional economies. The Catholic Church in Mexico is another important influence allowing -or not- the rising in religious tourism in what it considers its holy places, presenting contradictory positions towards it. The waning in catholic numbers in the country has made this region a Catholic fortress, since western Mexico forms most of the country's priests. And last and not least, new agers in the area are also creating and giving new meanings to old and new holy places, shaping the rise in religious tourism in the area. These tendencies will give new lights on the relation of tourism, religion and the configuration of holy places in Mexico.

panel G51
Exploring frontiers of tourism research and theory in Latin America and the Caribbean (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Tourism)