Indigenous tourism and cultural justice in a Tz’utujil Maya community, Guatemala

Lucy C. Harbor, Carter A. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Despite explicit links to justice issues inherent in indigenous rights movements, little research has been undertaken to understand Indigenous Tourism from a justice perspective. This study employs ethnographic interviewing, participant observation, and archival data to study tourism in the Tz’utujil Maya community of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. Findings emphasize emic views of local community members that offer valuable insights for understanding justice as it relates to Tz’utujil culture. We argue that the loss of Indigenous culture, ways of living, and ways of knowing would almost certainly be hastened if tourism and the associated cultural valuation were not present. Furthermore, direct participation in negotiation on tourism related matters is a key principle to facilitate autonomy, agency, fairness and equity in cultural justice. Authenticity, similarly, is a negotiated concept, requiring direct participation to facilitate fairness and equity in cultural tourism, as seen being practiced by the Tz’utujil people. The cultural justice framing here makes a valuable contribution to recent writing in tourism studies on indigenous environmental justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-233
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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