The Heritage Business Industry: Mexico’s Opportunity for Economic Growth (pp. 26-42; DOI: 10.23692/iMex.12.3)

Prof. Dr. Sandra L. López Varela

(PhD, University of London 1996, RPA 2005) is Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Her current research studies focus on the effects of social development policies and institutional economics to combat poverty with the support of nonindustrial technologies, receiving the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2012. Prof. López Varela has dedicated efforts to promote applied anthropology in Mexico and to create innovative career opportunities for students in training. She has served at the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (2011–2014), as President of the Society for Archaeological Sciences (2009–2011), and is acting Treasurer of the Sociedad Mexicana de Antropología.

The following discussion addresses the potential of developing a heritage business industry in Mexico for the purposes of economic growth. The discussion challenges Mexico’s reliance on tourism as a revenue stream in the context of high rates of violence and criminal activity, and examines its failure to promote its rich culture and history. Here, an alternative scenario is offered to create value from Mexico’s rich culture and history by introducing cultural resource management (CRM), an industry developed by private firms around the world, for the protection and management of cultural heritage in compliance with environmental and historical laws. In a context of international initiatives, mainly by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, this contribution identifies those key factors pressuring the Mexican government to introduce CRM in Mexico as well as alternative routes for financing heritage preservation. Mexico’s dependency on international institutions for economic growth will eventually introduce a definition of heritage beyond notions of old and pretty objects. If Mexico wants to bring significant revenue to its economy, the Mexican government is compelled to embrace a heritage definition involving the significance of place.

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