In 1977 Angel Palerm, Jorge Alonso, and Lucila Gómez conducted a series of seminars at the Universidad Iberoamericana on the effect of urbanization on land-tenure patterns around Mexico City and Guadalajara. Jorge Durand’s anthropological study on the settlement of Cerro del Judío is one of the numerous studies emerging from this project. His theoretical framework, based heavily on Palerm’s, is concerned with the contradictory nature of the proletarianization of the peasantry and the impact of this process on the political potential of the popular classes.

This short monograph, which uses the archives of the Secretaría de la Reforma Agraria and personal interviews (the latter are, unfortunately, not cited), sketches in three loosely connected chapters the land-tenure history of this community since the Porfiriato. Cerro del Judío was initially a free village despoiled of its land and surrounded by a hacienda. By the time it received an ejidal grant in 1924, its inhabitants were being subjected to two contradictory economic processes by the capitalist system: proletarianization and campesinización. Durand adds a fifth stage to Palerm’s four stages of the proletarianization of the peasantry: the illegal sale of ejidal lands resulting from the urbanization of the ejido between 1940 and 1975 liberates the peasant from his own labor while transforming him into a worker within the capitalist system. The final chapter treats the class conflict arising between 1973 and 1980 when the government, in alliance with the bourgeoisie, attempted to expropriate ejidal lands of the ejidatarios and colonos—who resorted to popular mobilization to protect their properties.

This fairly good case study of an ejido struggling against the inevitable processes of urbanization and demographic explosion suffers from methodological and structural problems. The author’s theoretical objectives are not clear beyond presenting a neo-Marxist discussion of the contradictory nature of the proletarianization of the peasantry. This lack of theoretical focus at times makes this study fragmented.