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A Symbol Of Wisdom And Love ? Counter-Cultural Tourism And The Multiple Faces Of María Sabina In Huautla, Oaxaca

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Chapter Summary

Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca, is different from most communities that are known for cultural tourism. Yet despite the absence of the usual signs of tourism and tourist development, Huautla remains symbolically central as the epitome of a certain kind of cultural, or rather counter-cultural tourism. This chapter examines some of the social and political consequences of the 50-year history of this peculiar form of cultural interaction. It focuses on how this encounter has motivated non-Mazatec Mexicans and North Americans to reconstruct utopian identities that have more to do with the future than the past. There are some features common to the ways in which each of these groups represents the touristic encounter. For all of these actors, authenticity became an important trope for making distinctions, and for each group the figure of a single individual-María Sabina-became elevated as a sort of master symbol for Huautla and the Sierra Mazateca.

Keywords: counter-cultural tourism; Huautla de Jiménez; María Sabina; non-Mazatec Mexicans; Oaxaca; Sierra Mazateca; utopian identities



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