This book gathers four studies dealing with the labor organization and production systems in Mexico during the pre-Hispanic and colonial periods. “Trabajo tributario y consumo suntuario en el México antiguo,” by Luz María Mohar Betancourt, uses the codex Matrícula de Trihuto and the Códice Mendocino to illuminate the social division of labor on which the Aztec state based its tributary system. Mohar Betancourt presents a classification of tributaries according to the goods they were to relinquish to Aztec tribute collectors. Although the role of peasants, artisans, and especially women tributaries is underscored, this study emphasizes that the accurate planning of the tribute system was a product of the might of the Aztec state.

“Los arrieros novohispanos,” by Clara Elena Suárez Argüello, examines the position of the muleteers in the colonial economic system of central Mexico during the eighteenth century, utilizing records from the Archivo de la Nación. The first part of the study is an analysis of the transportation sector, highlighting its internal segmentation according to capital and ownership. The author discloses the complexities of the sector, with its different types of entrepreneurs and laborers, as well as the assorted types of arrangements between productive units and muleteers. The second part of this study centers on the jurisdiction of Cuautla Amilpas, using a 1791 padrón (census) to determine the demographic distribution of muleteers. It underscores the struggle between miners and sugar hacendados for access to transportation. The author successfully demonstrates that the muleteers, far from being a marginal group, were solidly integrated in the local community through business links (and conflicts), kinship networks, and family life.

“Trabajadores y cambios tecnológicos en los ingenios azucareros (siglos XVII y XVIII),” by Beatriz Scharrer Tamm, is a thorough description of the technical aspects of sugarcane cultivation and sugar production, based on secondary sources and documents, mainly hacienda inventories. The author points out that technological changes in the eighteenth century were concomitant to the change from slave to wage systems. Also, transformations in agricultural notions and labor organization modified the harvest cycle and productivity in the second half of the century. “La organizatión del trabajo en los molinos de trigo,” by Gloria Artís Espriu, depicts the work process in central Mexican mills, using documentation from the Archivo del Antiguo Ayuntamiento de México and the Archivo General de la Nación. The author argues that mills were primarily instruments oriented to allow their owners to participate in the commercial speculation of grain. She supports her view by resorting to an analysis of production expenses and of the labor organization in the mills.