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Fishers At Work, Workers At Sea

Fishers At Work, Workers At Sea: Puerto Rican Journey Thru Labor & Refuge

David Griffith
Manuel Valdés Pizzini
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Fishers At Work, Workers At Sea
    Book Description:

    Small-scale fishing, a house-hold based enterprise in Puerto Rico, rarely provides sufficient income for a family, but it anchors their culture and sense of themselves within that culture. Even when family members must engage in wage work to supplement house-hold income, they think of themselves as fishers. Liche typifies these wage workers: "When he was quite young, he left the island to struggle in other lands, to work, to raise a family, to send home the money he earned. Ten, twenty, thirty years passed...during which he did not once fish or even see the ocean. But in a boat-building factory in New Jersey, in a bakery in the Bronx, on the production line of a chemical factory, on dozens of construction sites, every single day he made a mental review of the waters, the isles and cays ...and entertained no thought that was not related to his return."Fishers at Work, Workers at Sea describes Puerto Rican fishing families as they negotiate homeland and diaspora. It considers how wage work affects their livelihoods and identities at home and how these independent producers move in and out of global commodity markets. Drawing on some 100 life histories and years of fieldwork, David Griffith and Manuel Valdés Pizzini have developed a complex, often moving portrait of the men and women who fiercely struggle to hang onto the coastal landscapes and cultural heritage tied to the Caribbean Sea.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0763-4
    Subjects: Business, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Divided Selves: Domestic Production and Wage Labor in Puerto Rico and Anthropology
    (pp. 1-33)

    The field boss speaks to the crew in the broken Spanish he picked up from the Mexican crews before they left for the Blue Ridge Mountains to shape Christmas trees. It is the tail end of a long Indian summer. Back home in Puerto Rico, where Ángel and Miguel have not set foot since June, the threat of hurricanes is passing for another year. Standing in the half circle around the field boss, listening to him explain the tasks of harvest as though teaching dogs how to dig for gophers, Ángel and Miguel do not let on that they speak...

  5. 2 Palatable Coercion: Fishing in Puerto Rican History
    (pp. 34-55)

    The official incorporation of Puerto Rico and its people into United States hegemony was framed in the comments of Senator Vardaman made on the floor of the U.S. Senate on January 30, 1917:

    So far as I am personally concerned, I really think it is a misfortune for the United States to take that class of people into the body politic. They will never, no, not in a thousand years, understand the genius of our government or share our ideals of government; but the United States has taken this island; the investments that have been made there by American white...

  6. 3 Puerto Rican Fisheries
    (pp. 56-94)

    A casual drive along Puerto Rico’s coast reveals the diverse fruits of the island’s fisheries. Nearly everyvilla pesquera, or fishing association, sells the seafood pastries known asempanadillas de pulpo, de langosta, de camarones, de chapín— the Caribbean pies made with octopus, lobster, shrimp, or little box-shaped trunkfish. In Guayama, on Puerto Rico’s South Coast, vendors selling from a van on a side road between two pharmaceutical factories offer fresh mackerel steaks marinated and fried in sweet onions and olive oil, keeping them warm in a glass case fitted with five sixty-watt bulbs. Across from their mobile restaurant stretches...

  7. 4 Chiripas: Working-Class Opportunity and Semiproletarianization
    (pp. 95-130)

    While we were training Puerto Rican field assistants to interview fishers, we recommended that, during several portions of the life history interviews—especially when fishers recalled their work histories—the interviewers might probe for more information. Specifically, we suggested that they ask aboutchiripas, the colloquial term for casual, varied work—what we would call, in colloquial English, odd jobs, though these jobs are not “odd” at all but are central to many working households’ strategies. On hearing this term, the assistants laughed and joked with one another that the work of interviewing might well be considered a kind of...

  8. 5 Injury and Therapy
    (pp. 131-161)

    Along with material and social consequences of semiproletarianization, discussed in Chapter 4, Puerto Rican fishers develop new and revised old conceptual categories to characterize their custom of moving among multiple livelihoods. These categories influence the ways fishers think about work as they influence the ways domestic production and capitalist production complement or contradict each other. Like many people around the world, Puerto Rican fishers have formed opinions about capitalism primarily from their experiences with low-wage, unskilled, or semi-skilled work settings (Frobel, Heinrichs, and Kreye 1980; Nash and Fernandez-Kelley 1983; Sanderson 1985). Yet these opinions have not developed in a vacuum;...

  9. 6 Roads Less Traveled: Proletarianization and Its Discontents
    (pp. 162-193)

    Individual choices that seem to run counter to prevailing structural conditions tend to stimulate discussion about exactly how and how much those conditions influence opportunity and experience. In the many stories that constitute an individual's life history, specific choices often emerge as critical explanations for the routes that lives take vis-à-vis personal, social, and economic crises. Yet the choices that individuals make, while personal in essence, also respond to barriers that derive from customary economic and political practices, including the structure of the labor supply at an international, global level. This chapter illustrates how individual choices, made within household contexts,...

  10. 7 Power Games: Work Versus Leisure Along Puerto Rico’s Coast
    (pp. 194-219)

    In the late 19805, working on behalf of the Southeast Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), we and several colleagues spent the better part of a year visiting coastal municipalities and small islands in the Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Island archipelago, interviewing sportfishers and creating an inventory of recreational infrastructure. This work was part of the NMFS’s attempt to incorporate into its research agenda more studies of leisure uses of the nation’s coastal and marine resources, which constituted a shift away from its previous focus on commercial uses of the coast. These shifting research priorities reflected the growing...

  11. 8 Fragments of a Refuge
    (pp. 220-248)

    In April 1999, residents of the island municipality of Vieques, Puerto Rico, drew international attention when, in protest, they colonized a portion of the U.S. Naval Base that takes up about half of the island. For nearly sixty years before the protest, the Navy had routinely used the waters surrounding Vieques for target practice and had allowed other nations access to its firing ranges. Island residents have always considered the shelling environmentally destructive, destroying and disrupting life around the reefs, and on several occasions the bombs have ruined fishing gear.

    The April colonization of Navy lands, this time stimulated by...

  12. References
    (pp. 249-262)
  13. Index
    (pp. 263-265)