As a free trade zone and Latin America's most popular destination, Cancún, Mexico, is more than just a tourist town. It is not only actively involved in the production of transnational capital but also forms an integral part of the state's modernization plan for rural, indigenous communities. Indeed, Maya migrants make up over a third of the city's population.
A Return to Servitude is an ethnography of Maya migration within Mexico that analyzes the foundational role indigenous peoples play in the development of the modern nation-state. Focusing on tourism in the Yucatán Peninsula, M. Bianet Castellanos examines how Cancún came to be equated with modernity, how this city has shaped the political economy of the peninsula, and how indigenous communities engage with this vision of contemporary life. More broadly, she demonstrates how indigenous communities experience, resist, and accommodate themselves to transnational capitalism.
Tourism and the social stratification that results from migration have created conflict among the Maya. At the same time, this work asserts, it is through engagement with modernity and its resources that they are able to maintain their sense of indigeneity and community.
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