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The ejido is an institution of communal land tenure and governance administered by the Mexican government. This paper assesses the current visual appearance of landscapes and implicit land use in ejidal lands on the periphery of Guadalajara, Mexico, using Google Street View (GSV) images tagged for signs of urban distress. Distressed landscapes are associated with the temporal process of urban expansion—newer settlements tend to be more visibly impoverished. Concentrations of vulnerable housing are correlated with encroached-upon ejidal lands in a process that was underway by the 1970s, well before Mexico’s neoliberal turn. Ejidos on the urban periphery, created to support agricultural communities during Mexico’s radical period of agrarian reform, are now sites of urban sprawl and impoverishment. Nevertheless, these communities remain legally salient as federal entities with respect to the disposition of land. Their presence complicates the historical evolution of land use in the urban periphery in ways that do not fit into classical central place models. We conclude that the presence of ejidos is associated with rapid and chaotic urbanization by migrants and the loss of agricultural capacity in Guadalajara’s periphery.


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