Making Machu Picchu

The Politics of Tourism in Twentieth-Century Peru

By Mark Rice

252 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 2 maps, 1 graph

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4353-3
    Published: October 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4352-6
    Published: October 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4354-0
    Published: August 2018

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Speaking at a 1913 National Geographic Society gala, Hiram Bingham III, the American explorer celebrated for finding the “lost city” of the Andes two years earlier, suggested that Machu Picchu “is an awful name, but it is well worth remembering.” Millions of travelers have since followed Bingham’s advice. When Bingham first encountered Machu Picchu, the site was an obscure ruin. Now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu is the focus of Peru’s tourism economy. Mark Rice’s history of Machu Picchu in the twentieth century—from its “discovery” to today’s travel boom—reveals how Machu Picchu was transformed into both a global travel destination and a powerful symbol of the Peruvian nation.

Rice shows how the growth of tourism at Machu Picchu swayed Peruvian leaders to celebrate Andean culture as compatible with their vision of a modernizing nation. Encompassing debates about nationalism, Indigenous peoples' experiences, and cultural policy—as well as development and globalization—the book explores the contradictions and ironies of Machu Picchu's transformation. On a broader level, it calls attention to the importance of tourism in the creation of national identity in Peru and Latin America as a whole.

About the Author

Mark Rice is assistant professor of history at Baruch College, City University of New York.
For more information about Mark Rice, visit the Author Page.


“Not only the first serious treatment of Machu Picchu’s central role in the development of tourism in Peru, this book also brilliantly explores the importance of tourism and Machu Picchu to Peru's self-fashioning as a nation directly descended from the ‘great civilization’ of the Incas. Making Machu Picchu is a welcome and essential contribution to a broader effort to complete the puzzle of Peru’s modern history.”—Paulo Drinot, University College London