The Mystical Past and the Lucrative Present: New Age Archaeological Tourism in the Andes

Author(s): Emily Dean

Year: 2018


The last two decades in the south central Andes have witnessed the rapid growth of "Turismo Mistico" or New Age Tourism to archaeological sites and monuments in the south central Andes. Using the Cusco Valley of Peru as a case study, this paper analyzes textual, visual, experiential, and ethnographic data in order to assess the economic and socio-political impact this industry has on the communities in which it thrives. In particular, I explore the implications New Age Tourism has on local and visitor perceptions of Andean prehistory and heritage management. What are the positive and the negative aspects of New Age Tourism. I conclude by discussing the ambivalence many professional archaeologists feel when confronted with these 'un-scientific' understandings of the past. How do we, as archaeologists, respond (or not respond) to perceived challenges to our professional authority? How do we share the past with people we may disagree with? While many of us are keenly interested in indigenous religious practices, we may be highly skeptical or even contemptuous of New Age spiritual beliefs. How do we negotiate the limits of our own professional cultural relativism?

Cite this Record

The Mystical Past and the Lucrative Present: New Age Archaeological Tourism in the Andes. Emily Dean. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443401)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22645