The main topics fall within current anthropological research: migration, factionalism, symbolic systems, and the political economy of Mexico. The conclusions about the shifting pattern of factionalism and the use of gossip and characterization by people at different levels of factional structures in the community are well supported.
The author is able to portray both a great respect and, at the same time, an enthusiastic, sometimes slightly bemused attitude toward the village and the villagers. In this sense, the book stands out as having literary qualities that are not often seen in many anthropological works.
An especially fine feature of the book is the way in which the author places herself in the midst of the analysis. Another excellent feature is the way in which she is able to mix issues of political economy with the ideology of everyday conversations, rituals, and ceremonies. The inclusion of the experience of villagers as they work in the resort of Cancun makes this a very current and useful work.
The combination of a perspective grounded in political economy and the economic analysis of family production strategies with a careful look at how these are molded and given meaning through symbolic activities such as ceremonies and gossip is a strength of this book. Likewise, the author provides many insights into the values associated with peasant agriculture gained through her own participation in milpa work. Allan Burns, University of Florida"show more