(Com)modifying the Sacred: The Incorporation and Adaptation of Non-Western Medicine into the Wellness Tourism Market
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn the last two to three decades, non-mainstream medicine has become a well-known face of the wellness market. Non-mainstream healing constitutes the health and tourism itineraries of a western costumer oriented to self-care and holistic wellbeing. On one hand, these decisions are framed by a western tendency to psychologize our social relationships and seek self-fulfillment in foreign spiritualities. On the other, cultural globalization, the New Age, and new tourisms have contributed to this insertion. Through a de-contextualization of their original cultures and a re-contextualization in western frames, non-mainstream healing is reinvented to adapt to the capitalist economy and the tourist glaze. Such event has aggravated the debate on cultural appropriation of indigenous knowledge. The accommodation of the pre-Hispanic sweat lodge to the hotel industry of Tulum, Mexico, illustrates the present phenomenon. Local healers and hotels negotiate the identity of this ancestral therapeutic ritual, creating a wellness product that bounces between “the hippie” and the luxury in a setting that markets indigenous spirituality. Through a literature review and an ethnographic case study conducted by the author, the present work contributes to understand why and how non-western medicines are constructed within the capitalist wellness market.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Latin American Studies