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Territorial Inequality Driven by Tourism: A Queer Mapping of Urban Space in Acapulco, Mexico

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Abstract:  Drawing on the life stories of nine LGBTTTIQ-identified people who have lived in Acapulco (Guerrero, Mexico), this article provides a queer mapping of this city, peripherally situated in the Global South yet with longstanding entangled transnational connections. The frame for this analysis is the concept of “territorial inequality,” a term coined by urbanism scholar Óscar Torres Arroyo, whose seminal work examined the emergence of this southern Mexican city as an urban space formed through a process of socioeconomic segregation driven by tourism. This article also responds to the call of queer urban scholars to look beyond the metropole for spaces of the political theorized on their own terms. In Acapulco, class, race, and nationality intersect with sexuality in ways that have made it a destination for some queers while also dangerous and unpredictable for others, a segregated sociopolitical space where norms of masculinity have collided with multiversal expressions of sexuality imbued with patterns of exploitation. A key destination during the 20th-century rise of international tourism and a place now securitized as “violent,” this urban space is also the site of evolving LGBTTTIQ movements, communities, and shifting patterns of queer life and queer tourism. This article reconsiders proposals made by queer theorists such as Lionel Cantú and Jasbir Puar regarding the complicated role of tourism in shaping sexualities, urbanization patterns, and state practices structured through colonial, neoliberal, and liberational processes, to theorize queer dimensions of the development of this city.

Keywords:  LGBTTTIQ; Mexico; organized crime; queer tourism; segregation; territorial inequality; urban space; violence

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v8i2.6425


© William J. Payne. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.