Review: Plazas and Barrios: Heritage Tourism and Globalization in the Latin American Centro Historico

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Review: Plazas and Barrios: Heritage Tourism and Globalization in the Latin American Centro Historico By Joseph L. Scarpaci Reviewed by Robert D. Hook University of Idaho, USA Joseph L. Scarpaci. Plazas and Barrios: Heritage Tourism and Globalization in the Latin American Centro Historico. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 2005. 267pp. ISBN 0-8165-1631-6 (cloth) US$45.00. Alkaline paper.

When we travel in Latin America, one of the main points of interest is the plaza or historical center of the cities. We marvel at the architecture of these centers and are amazed at the variety of life, shops and hotels. We see glimpses of their history collaged with the present and wonder how they developed. Scarpaci, a Professor of Geography at Virginia Tech University, is well qualified to guide us through an exploration of this topic. In 2002 he won the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award for Havana: Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis which he co-authored with Cuban architect Mario Coyula and Roberto Serge.

In Plazas and Barrios, he analyzes the urban cores of nine Latin American cities and their eventual transformations from town plazas to historic centers. He discusses the political, economic and social forces that formed the barrios and continue to shape them. He explores the history, settlement, and economy of each city, and then examines contemporary planning issues. The cities are Bogotá and Cartagena, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cuenca and Quito, Ecuador; Havana and Trinidad, Cuba; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Puebla, Mexico. They were selected in order to represent "geographic variety: agricultural versus mining and manufacturing centers, ports versus inland locations, and large versus small cities" (p. 220). Scarpaci has provided insightful information about each of the cities and what has happened to make their historical centers and barrios what they are today. He "explores how heritage tourism and globalization reshape the Latin American historic district "(p 32). "Latin American tourism is increasingly becoming a major source of economic development. …