Recasting urban imaginaries: politicized temporalities and the touristification of a notorious Mexico City barrio
The purpose of this paper is to point to the significance of temporally charged imaginaries of neglected places and their residents in the context of slum tourism research. It examines the way in which tour guides draw on specific temporalities to recast the poverty and stigma of the Mexico City barrio of Tepito and thus design narratives to alter long-held imaginaries of this neighbourhood.Design/methodology/approachTwo tours are analysed through an anthropological lens using ethnographic methods. Authors took part in the tours, registering the guides’ discourse and interventions, as well as the places and situations observed. The insights of this paper stem from the empirical evidence and reveal how diverse imaginaries are enacted through tour guiding.FindingsWithout necessarily following a single, coherent narrative, tour guides link different moments in time to simultaneously generate and contest slum tour imaginaries. The guides in this case study not only challenge existing stereotypes, but also critically engage political neglect while showcasing Tepito’s potentiality. Even so, the analysed tours seek to recast the barrio as integral to Mexico City’s history and future.Originality/valueUntil now, the importance of temporalities in the generation of imaginaries in slum tourism research has gained only little attention. The case study presented here show how alternative forms of tourism are offering unconventional readings of urban neighbourhoods. These processes, the authors argue, help not only re-imagine disadvantaged districts, such as Tepito, but also to re-think the city as a whole in terms of its past, present and future.