Ajijic is a Mexican town that during the 1990´s experienced its biggest social, economic, and physical transformation of the last 50 years. This transformation was mainly triggered by two factors: 1) a significant increase in the number of foreign retirees moving into Ajijic (effect of a global phenomenon identified in different literature as international retirement migration [IRM]); and 2) the consequent increase in the construction of residential developments and infrastructure (mainly retiree-oriented).
Motivated by some local economic benefits derived from this transformation, the successive municipal governments have been implementing a project of shaping Ajijic as a retirement destination. However, this has also caused cases of invasion by residential developments on archaeological zones, federal and communal land, and places considered locally as traditional. In response to this, different social actors started carrying out their own projects, which they justify through their own interpretations about Ajijic and its development.
The present ethnographic study shows how actors try to obtain public legitimisation to realise their projects. This legitimisation is achieved through creating situations in which they exhibit peculiar practices: the use of discourses, objects, and rituals. Additionally, it is analysed how through rituals actors create new spaces of legitimisation and social entities which the author describes as global-transnational-local (GTL). These spaces and entities have a central role in shaping Ajijic. In this way, the present study contributes to a better understanding of processes of development and modernisation; processes of legitimisation; the IRM phenomenon; and the notion of social actor´s agency, which is proposed to be seen more as social actor´s body-context agency. In this study was taken an Actor-Oriented Approach (Long 2007) and an ethnographic perspective to global assemblages (Collier and Ong 2004).