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8132 - Selling Community On-Line in Oaxaca: Local Governance, Multinational Economies, and Fluid Citizens.

Over the last century, tourism in Mexico has moved from a focus on coastal resorts to national heritage including the commodification of indigenous and artisan populations and their cultures. A primary mode of sale by the Mexican State has been online sites that direct potential tourists to state-run tourist centers rather than to the actual communities. Local community members that have attempted to develop their own websites find them redirected to the state-based website or eliminated as part of a contractual agreement made between local government and the state Secretary of Tourism. These agreements provide communities with access to tourist fairs, expos, bus tours, subsidized pricing on production materials, and other such resources that are unavailable to communities that do not sign the agreements. These agreements, however, while providing free perks also cost the communities by preventing autonomous growth and development. Communities thus have little power over their image, history, production, export activities, and growth. The result is an international consumption of the community through virtual images and narratives that reflect a national imaginary of indigenous and folk artisan groups, the majority of whom are rural, rather than a local reality. This in turn requires artisan communities to reinvent themselves in the image of the state for tourist consumption rather than being able to tell their own stories. Technology in this context comes to represent continued oppression rather than autonomy, stagnation rather than growth, and marginalization rather than integration.

Keywords: Tourism, Cultural Commodification, Virtual Tourism, Mexico

Author: Perez, Ramona (San Diego State University, Ud States of Am / USA)

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