In the course of the nineteenth century, communal forms of land ownership almost disappeared from the Mexican countryside. According to the historia patria that is deeply ingrained in the popular imagination of Mexico, this was a fateful development, because during the long rule of Porfirio Díaz the demise of communal land tenure produced widespread landlessness and rural injustice, conditions that acted as catalysts for the Mexican Revolution. For the most part, scholarly interpretations have concurred with this assessment. Yet considering the significance generally attached to this historic transformation in patterns of land tenure, it is remarkable to discover that the process has not until now been analyzed in any detail. Although it is clear that the lands of many pueblos were privatized during the Porfiriato, there is still—one hundred years later—very little concrete understanding of how this happened and what it meant. More...

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