Anthropology Faculty Publications and Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



Drawn by the allure of “ancient cultures,” tourists inadvertently consume deauthenticated indigenous practices, including ethnomedical traditions such as midwifery. This is especially true in the case of “Traditional Mexican Midwifery” since stark differences exist between how midwifery practices unfold in indigenous contexts and how they are represented to global tourists. “Traditional Mexican Midwifery” tourism is a unique lens for examining some of the underlying, intersectional issues threatening “sustainability” in ethnomedical tourism. When nonindigenous individuals position themselves as representatives of “Traditional Mexican Midwifery” and indigenous midwives are excluded from profit chains, this type of tourism not only fails to meet the needs of the indigenous people it fetishizes, it actually excludes them from the equation entirely. While overt prejudice and racial discrimination of the colonial era no longer exist, neocolonial tourism in the form of “Traditional Mexican Midwifery” tourism subtly reinforces romanticized stereotypes of the indigenous “Other.” Ethnographic examples, gleaned from multi-sited research in Mexico and Brazil, demonstrate the usefulness of “Traditional Mexican Midwifery” for critiquing existing misapplications of responsible tourism and proposing more sustainable futures. Tourism can be an indigenous process (in which local residents both motivate and reap the benefits of tourism), or it can serve a neocolonial agenda (in which tourism development and profits unequitably favor transnational elites). Current forms of “Traditional Mexican Midwifery” tourism are unsustainable due to intersectional exclusion of indigenous women based on race, class, and gender. To dismantle intersectional inequality in “Traditional Mexican Midwifery,” coordinated efforts by Mexican Secretary of Health’s Traditional Medicine and Intercultural Development (TMID), Mexican Midwifery Association, and critical tourism scholars and activists are required.


Rights managed by Taylor & Francis. Original published version available at

Publication Title

Tourism Geographies



Included in

Anthropology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.