Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Colonial Heritage of Mestizaje in Granada, Nicaragua
by Martinez Cervantes, Ruth Maria, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2016, 211; 10151149
Abstract (Summary)

This research stems from my questioning regarding the lack of research of precolonial archaeological sites and their almost complete absence in the new industry of tourism. I chose my field site on the city of Granada because of the historical importance in the economy of the country, its foundation as the first establishment of Spanish colonizers, and its centrality today in Nicaraguan tourism. Babb (2004) argues that the introduction to tourism industry provides the opportunity to the Nicaraguan government to remake its image to the outside. This remaking of the country’s image will affect how Nicaraguans view themselves. In that sense my main question is: what are the effects of tourism on the identity of granadinos? I argue that the Nicaraguan government takes an active position in presenting tourists with a modernized (not indigenous or black) Nicaraguan community by silencing their past and present, and presenting to tourists only the European heritage of the country; such narratives gives a partial representation of the Nicaraguan identity to foreign visitors; at the same time it projects and naturalizes Nicaraguan identity as “mestizo.” I conclude tourism narratives are reinforcing a mestizo identity through the colonial heritage. Young mestizos as well as indigenous people continue to admire and emulate foreigners’ accents, clothing, sports, hairdo, etcetera.. I believed that the reason for these changes were rooted in the introduction of tourism and new cultural expressions, however, from this research I concluded that is rooted in the effects of the colonial period on the identity of the population. For centuries the Spanish crown and later the national governments eroded the foundation of the indigenous identity, thus the origins of mestizo identity as well. Thereby creating an identity crisis among both ethnic groups and a deep tension on the subject of identity, furthering the racialization of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. Mestizaje successfully silenced indigenous populations, and ignored the indigenous origin of mestizos. However, currently mestizos do participate in indigenous cultural expressions departing from the hegemonic concept of mestizo - as in complete opposition to indigenous identity -, although they deny or ignore and racialize indigenous people. I consider that the introduction of tourism has brought changes in the Nicaraguan population. The government narratives based on colonial identities create a new environment where colonial relationships are reproduced. In my opinion this is a negative impact of tourism, however, it may lead to new conversations about colonialist interactions, ethnic identity and racism that remain covert in the everyday lives of Nicaraguans.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Roland, Lorecia Kaifa, Sheets, Payson
Commitee: Bryan, Joe, Lekson, Stephen, Shannon, Jennifer
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 78/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Latin American Studies, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Identity, Mestizo, Tourism, Western Nicaragua
Publication Number: 10151149
ISBN: 978-1-369-05913-7
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