Bounded Tourism: Immigrant Politics, Consumption, and Traditions at Plaza Mexico

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Irazábal, C. and M. Gómez-Barris. “Bounded Tourism: Immigrant Politics, Consumption, and Traditions at Plaza Mexico.” Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 5(3), 2007, 186-213.


Conceived and owned by Korean investors, the shopping mall Plaza Mexico in Southern California embodies a unique case of invention and commodification of traditions for locally-bound immigrants and US citizens of Mexican descent, showing the force of the contemporary processes of deterritorialisation and reterritorilisation of identities and the recreations of imagined conceptions of homeland. The Plaza is a unique architectural recreation of Mexican regional and national icons that make its patrons feel ‘as if you were in Mexico’. Plaza Mexico produces a space of diasporic, bounded tourism, whereby venture capitalists opportunistically reinvent tradition within a structural context of constrained immigrant mobility. While most of the contemporary theory of tourism, travel and place emphasise the erosion of national boundaries and the fluidity of territories, the case of Plaza Mexico brings us to appreciate this phenomenon and its opposite as well – the strengthening of national borders and their impact on the (in)mobility of millions of individuals.