Basilio Rojas has added two more outstanding volumes to his studies, which include La experiencia de México en el problema agrario, Trabajo recepcional, and La Soberana Convención de Aguascalientes. These new volumes take their place in the growing bibliography of books on communities and districts, such as Donald D. Brand’s Quiroga, a Mexican Municipio and Ralph L. Beal’s Cherán: A Sierra Tarascan Village.
As the author states in the preface, Miahuatlán is a district about which not only the world but his countrymen are ignorant. It is worthy of careful attention, however, for it is an area similar to hundreds of others in the Mexican Republic. Indeed, much of the value of this study lays in the fact that Miahuatlán is Mexico in microcosm.
Volume One presents a lucid analysis of the orography, hydrography, climate, fauna, flora, and mineral resources, as well as a specific geographical description, of all the territorial divisions of the district of Miahuatlán. Adding to the value of this work is the carefully compiled data on the population and boundaries of the villages and on the vocations and dress of their inhabitants. The author also dedicates a chapter to the patriotic past of this Mexican pueblo.
Rojas does an excellent job of informing the reader of this highly interesting area. The lack of bibliography, the scarcity of footnotes, and the poor black and white photographs are overcome by the sheer wealth of material, maps, and charts. The first volume thus graphically builds the stage upon which Volume Two places the historical man and then traces his development to the present day.
The second volume describes all phases of life in a Mexican village— from language to health. The study begins with a discussion of the population in pre-Cortés Miahuatlán, and there are excellent population charts for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In following chapters, a discussion of the Zapotec, Chontal, Náhua, and Aztec languages is included which explains the influence of these languages, as well as Castilian Spanish, upon the contemporary idiom. The influence of Indian painting, architecture, music, and literature is also noted. Another chapter outlines the development of education emphasizing the rise of public education in the late colonial and modern periods. In addition, the government of the district, in terms of its relationship to the municipio, state, and federal governments, and the evolution of justice from the laws of the Indians through the colonial period and into the twentieth century are analyzed. The synthesis of Indian and Castilian culture is further illustrated by Rojas’ discussion of religion in Miahuatlán. In the concluding chapters Rojas presents a detailed description of the social and family organization of this village. The worth of this second study is increased by the excellent documentation, bibliography, and complementary photographs.
These two volumes represent exhaustive research and scholarly examination of the district of Miahuatlán. Furthermore, they are written with the dedication of a Mexican patriot. These studies possess merit because of this alone, and they are invaluable as the source of the most extensive and varied information available on this region of Mexico.