Oaxaca's indigenous guelaguetza festival: not all that glistens is gold

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Publication details

Whitford, M 2008, 'Oaxaca's indigenous guelaguetza festival: not all that glistens is gold', Event Management, vol. 12, no. 3-4, pp. 143-161.

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Guelaguetza is one of Mexico's premiere celebrations of indigenous dance and music. The festival occurs every July in Oaxaca City where it is a premier tourist attraction providing opportunities for socioeconomic growth and development. Yet the festival also creates negative impacts such as commodification and commercialization of the festival, which may lead to the bastardization of culture, including loss of indigenous authenticity and exploitation of local resources. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to critically analyze the positive and negative impacts of the 2007 Guelaguetza in order to determine the extent to which the festival focuses on becoming a tourist attraction at the expense of community celebration. A qualitative research design utilizing the case study approach was employed to analyze positive and negative impacts emerging from the real-world context of the 2007 Guelaguetza. The results of the study revealed that not all that glistens is gold at the festival. Behind the façade of this visually spectacular festival, the Guelaguetza is at real risk of becoming a colorful, attractive, yet meaningless, commercialized tourist venture if tourist and commercial needs are favored at the expense of the people and their traditions. Consequently, now is the time to revisit and redefine the purpose of the Guelaguetza to ensure it remains a sociocultural and economically viable annual festival for everyone to enjoy, long into the future.

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