Walking through Cultural Heritage: The Pleasure of Cultural Tourism

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Seminar 33 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Minerva ROJAS RUIZ, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
Mexico has a large tradition of Cultural Tourism. Under the same name, the most important program of this kind is operated by the National Institute of History and Anthropology. It consists of one day-long walking tours, each one conducted by a specialist who shows the public significant places of historic memory, and Mexican tangible and intangible heritage. Cultural Tourism was stablished in 1954 and nowadays it outreaches fifteen thousand people every year.

For the people that attends the tour, pleasure is a central facet and a motivator of the experience: it´s part of the time they dedicate to leisure. The walking tour is an aesthetic experience where subjectivities meet each other, not only because the walker socializes with other people, stablishing an identification with them, but also because the audience submerges in National History, which is presented to them as spectacular, monumental and enjoyable.

They also find pleasure in learning and deepening the knowledge they have of their cultural heritage, in finding themselves as being part of a historic community. It is a practice that culminates in the appropriation of public spaces by their bodies: the final purpose is not to go from one place to another, but to watch. Then, they walk calmly, making stops to contemplate beautiful places and sharing their feelings and impressions with their companions, but also with people that a few hours before where complete strangers (and in many cases they become friends afterwards ­ –as found in many interviews we have conducted).

We will show how in the cultural tour, pleasure is found simultaneously in being entertained, having some physical exertion (a walk lasts several hours), relaxing, having visual and cognitive pleasure (learning), and socializing.