Published December 6, 2019 | Version v1
Journal article Open

The impact of neoliberal globalization in the Lake of Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico: risks affecting the biocultural heritage of lacustrine communities (in Spanish)

  • 1. University of Guadalajara, Mexico


This publication belongs to the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network Working Papers Series Volume 6, No 1, “Artisanal fishing and cultural heritage: territorial conflicts, resistances, and social transformation in Colombia, Mexico and Spain” (in Spanish). (


In Mexico, the neoliberal globalization with its dynamics of private appropriation has introduced changes in the use of water and territory in the basins, rivers, lakes, and other water bodies. In the State of Jalisco in Mexico, the lacustrine towns around Lake Chapala have historically developed an important biocultural heritage linked to the largest lake in the country, which is expressed among other through celebratory rituals, and symbolisms. This lake culture has its origin in the activities of artisanal fishing and subsistence agriculture, which have been the basis of these ancient villages that have preserved their lifestyles for centuries. However, during the Twentieth Century the process of privatization of the territory and its waters have led to the progressive loss of the villages’ heritage, and their cultural and environmental wealth. The article aims to address some of the impacts of neoliberal globalization on the communities of Lake Chapala, resulting from the intervention of institutional agencies, state and municipal development plans, as the arrival of new inhabitants, processes that have impacted the biocultural heritage of the lacustrine communities.




This issue is part of the activities of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network’s Thematic Area 6 (TA6), Hydrosocial Basins, Territories, and Spaces ( TA6 carries out studies on the configuration of the hydrosocial space looking at different aspects and their transformations over time. These variables include, for example, political institutions, water infrastructure and technology, changes in the forms of ownership of land and water, beliefs and behaviours around the use of surface and underground waters, water commodification, and the pollution, care, and conservation of the water cycle. To understand this complexity we focus on exploring the historical transformations that have an impact on hydrosocial spaces. This includes changes in traditional productive activities, the difficulties they face to compete with the emergence of new activities driven by social groups with rival interests, changes in economic models and their subsystems, the changing flux inputs and products, the development of new water infrastructures, changes in the use of water and land, and transformations in the production of knowledge about these processes.


This issue addresses artisanal fishing as an ancestral cultural heritage that has become a territory of conflict and rapid social transformation. Artisanal fishing is one of the oldest trades in the world, a small-scale activity involving families and local communities, and developed in intimate interaction with marine or freshwater bodies. Artisanal fishermen and women depend on the activity for their family sustenance, both as a source of income to acquire necessary goods, but also because fish are a nutritious source of food that they can secure at a low cost. Artisanal fishing is also significant as an ancestral heritage that constitutes a way of life centered around the relationship between humans, water, and nature more generally, expressed in a range of maritime, riverine, lacustrine and other forms of hydrosocial identities.



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