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Encounters over Garbage: Tourists and Lifestyle Migrants in Mexico

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This article explores a tour to the garbage dump in the city of Mazatlán, northern Mexico, as an alternative to mass tourism. The tour, conducted by an evangelical North American church, is conceptualized as a non-profit, eye-opening experience for affluent tourists. I frame the tour as a particular kind of slum tourism, which is embedded in Christian values and promises a meaningful tourist experience by helping the poor. Drawing on an ethnographic approach, I argue that the interplay of globalization processes and local conditions in Mazatlán produces a particular framework in which slum tours emerge and work. The analysis reveals that this tour is a consequence of revised forms of tourism, transnational lifestyles and global forces at work in the North American–Mexican relationships. I stress that research needs to draw further attention to slum tourism's positioning in wider structural and historical contexts in order to understand its idiosyncratic features.
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Keywords: Mazatlán; Mexico; Slum tourism; charity; garbage; globalization; lifestyle migration; urban poverty

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

Publication date: 2012-05-01

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