States of Tourism: Mexico and Cuba
A Symposium

JANUARY 26, 2007
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall, 2nd floor
University of California, Berkeley

This symposium examines the development of tourism in Mexico and Cuba, past and present, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The intent of this interdisciplinary symposium is to provoke discussion, exchange ideas, and foster comparative views regarding tourism involving two major sites in the history of the travel industry in Latin America. Toward that end, the symposium particularly welcomes participation from faculty and graduate students who wish to engage the issues and questions raised by the six distinguished speakers and commentators.

In the first session, historian Dina Berger (Loyola University, Chicago) will discuss Mexican tourism through the prism of Mexico-U.S. relations and in light of the enormous significance of American visitors to Mexico’s tourist industry. Urban geographer Joseph Scarpaci (Virginia Polytechnic University) will key the second session on the thorny issues generated by heritage tourism, building on his work on Havana’s historic center as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The concluding session will feature anthropologist Florence Babb (University of Florida), who will interrogate sexual tourism in Cuba. Following each presentation, comments will be made by a leading scholar of a different disciplinary background as a means of initiating a wider discussion among participants and attendees.


Friday, January 26, 2007
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall

Welcome and Introductory Remarks (10:00-10:15 a.m.)

* Naomi Leite, Co-Chair, Tourism Studies Working Group

* Maki Tanaka, Co-Chair,
Tourism Studies Working Group

Session One (10:15-11:45 a.m.)

* Speaker: Dina Berger (History, Loyola University), “Goodwill Ambassadors on Holiday: Tourism, Public Diplomacy, and Mexico-U.S. Relations.”

* Commentator: Alex M. Saragoza (Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley)

* Discussion

Session Two (1:30-3:00 p.m.)

* Speaker: Joseph Scarpaci (Geography, Virginia Polytechnic), “Discourses and Conundrums of Cuban Tourism: Havana vieja.

* Commentator: Nelson Graburn (Anthropology, UC Berkeley)

* Discussion

Session Three (3:15-4:45 p.m.)

* Speaker: Florence Babb (Women's Studies, University of Florida), “Love for Sale: Sex, Sentiment, and Tourism in Contemporary Cuba.”

* Commentator, Yvonne Daniel (Dance and Afro-American Studies, Smith College)

* Discussion

Concluding Remarks (4:45-5:00 p.m.)

* Alex M. Saragoza (Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley)


Florence Babb is the Vada Allen Yeomans Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Florida, where she is also affiliated with the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Latin American Studies. Her many publications include Mapping Gender and Cultural Politics in Neoliberal Nicaragua (University of Texas Press, 2001). She is currently working on a project tentatively entitled “Touring Revolution: Fashioning Nations,” involving analyses of Cuba, Nicaragua, highland Peru, and Chiapas.

Dina Berger
is Assistant Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, where she specializes in modern Latin American history. Her most recent publication is The Development of Mexico’s Tourism Industry: Pyramids by Day, Martinis by Night (Palgrave, 2006).

Yvonne Daniel is Professor Emerita of Dance and Afro-American Studies at Smith College. Trained as an anthropologist and a dancer, she is a specialist in Caribbean societies, cross-cultural dance and performance, and social inequality. Her book, Rumba: Dance and Social Change in Contemporary Cuba (Indiana University Press, 1995) traces issues of race, gender, and class in contemporary Cuba.

Joseph Scarpaci, Professor of Geography at Virginia Polytechnic University, has conducted field research in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Cuba. Since 1990, his research has focused on  the social and political correlates of historic preservation in Cuba. Recent publications stemming from this research include Barrios and Plazas: Heritage Tourism and Globalization in the Latin American Centro Historico (University of Arizona Press, 2005).

Alex Saragoza and Nelson Graburn, both members of the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, are core members of the Tourism Studies Working Group. Information about their current research and publications can be found in the People section of this website.


This symposium was organized by the Tourism Studies Working Group, with generous support from the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Ethnic Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Townsend Center for the Humanities, the Chicano/Latino Studies Program, the Dean of Social Sciences, the Dean of Humanities, and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.

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