This book explains the development of a regional agrarian system, centered on the rural estate (hacienda), in late colonial Mexico, in the area of Guadalajara. It describes the features of the rural economy—patterns of land ownership, credit and investment, labor relations, the structure of production, the relationship of a major colonial city to its surrounding area, and so forth. The thesis is that the population growth of Guadalajara progressively integrated the large geographical region surrounding the city through the mechanisms of the urban market for grain and meat, and that this in turn put pressure on local land and labor resources. Eventually this drove white and Indian landowners into increasingly sharp conflict with each other and led to the progressive proletarianization of the region’s peasantry during the last decades of the Spanish colonial era. It is no accident, given this history, that the Guadalajara region was one of the major areas of armed conflict for most of the decade during the Mexican struggle for independence from Spain (1810-1821).
Eric Van Young is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. His book include The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Mexican Struggle for Independence, 1810-1821, winner of the 2002 Bolton-Johnson Prize.