The Anatomy of Eleven Towns in Michoacan

The Anatomy of Eleven Towns in Michoacan

The Anatomy of Eleven Towns in Michoacan

The Anatomy of Eleven Towns in Michoacan


The towns of Michoacán have distinct personalities. Of this I was sure after several field trips into the state. But "personality differences," although readily felt, are not easily expressed. A method was needed to determine these differences, one that would indicate them in a manner useful to geographers.

In the small towns of Latin America the home is also the center of most economic activities. The major exceptions to this are trading in the open market and farming. This being the case, it seemed probable that if a record were made of all dwellings and the economic activity of each, the information, when placed upon a map, would show distributional aspects that might indicate differences between towns. Through this the elusive quality of these differing towns might be understood.

To procure such information I had to canvass all dwellings or get the information from informants. In the latter case I used always two and sometimes three informants for the same area to be certain of accuracy.

For mapping, all activities were arranged in four major categories: (1) stores, (2) crafts, (3) administrative offices, and (4) services. In addition to this, a subjective estimate was made of the quality of each house.

I chose eleven towns to study. One is located in the coastal mountains of the southern part of the state; three are in the low Balsas valley; and two are in the contact zone between the hot Balsas valley and the temperate slopes to the north. Four are within the mountain valleys of the volcanic ranges, and one, the highest, is on the cool slope at about 8,000 feet elevation.

These towns were chosen originally because of an assumption that each would be strongly influenced by its geographical area. From this assumption it seemed probable that a town of one geographical area would exhibit intrinsic differences from a town of another area. From this it was inferred that the four towns in the mountain valleys would show similarities due to their environment, and that the Balsas valley towns would show similarities to each other but differ from those of the mountain valleys. These assumptions were quickly shattered by the analytic maps. It became obvious that the geographical region could not explain the differences between the towns except in part.

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