Ethics and Archaeological Tourism in Latin America

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Ethics and Archaeological Tourism in Latin America

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International Journal of Historical Archaeology


Diaz-Andreu, Margarita

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Archaeological tourism and ethics are two fields that, with exceptions, scholars have been reluctant to combine. There is, however, an increasing concern on the general subject of tourism and ethics and this article will draw examples from Latin America to explore the intersection between both. An overview of the history of archaeological tourism in Latin America will be provided. A growing number of archaeologists all over Latin America are becoming active in promoting or assisting the conversion of sites into tourist attractions. For some, it is a way of protecting sites in the face of the dangers brought about by uncontrolled tourism and for others helping locals to earn a living is a humanitarian question. Yet, archaeological remains are not neutral, but powerful means of creating historical memory and identity. Tourism becomes a means of advertising and even of legitimizing the existence of groups and that politicizes archaeologists’ engagement with tourism. This politicization represents an ethical challenge for the profession. Also, the conversion of archaeological ruins into tourist attractions can only be made through the commodification of culture. This has been denounced by some scholars as another postcolonial appropriation and neoliberal method of controlling indigenous groups, but hailed by others as a good thing for indigenous communities as it provides them with a living.


Heritage Ethics Archaeological tourism Latin America Commodification of culture Indigenous groups 


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