Red Flags and Lace Coiffes: Identity and Survival in a Breton Village

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This book explores the question of why fishing communities continue their struggle to survive, despite often calamitous changes in ecology and economy. Using historical ethnography as a lens through which to understand how fishers of the Bigouden region of France and their families have reinvented themselves, Menzies argues that local identity plays an important role in their perseverance as global capitalist pressures continually force them to reorganize or disappear entirely.

Touching on many concepts that are fundamental to anthropology—culture, identity, kinship, work, political economy, and globalization—and filled with personal stories and warmth, this ethnography will be a welcome teaching tool for instructors and an enticing read for students.

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Editorial Reviews

Red Flags and Lace Coiffes delivers the goods when it comes to providing an in-depth account of the advent of the artisanal fishery from the perspective of production. It employs a variety of data sources to inquire into the roles of social class, gender, and kinship in sustaining the fishery. In addition, the author's work experience as a fisher allows him to succinctly identify key aspects of Bigouden marine ecology and the ever improving industrial foraging technologies that make fishing possible and economically viable in the region.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Charles R. Menzies is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and Director of the Ethnographic Film Unit. He is director of an accompanying film about the Breton fishery, Face a la Tempete—Weather the Storm (Bullfrog Films, 2008) and editor of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Natural Resource Management (University of Nebraska Press, 2006).
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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables



Situating the Field

Where is the Bigoudennie?

Part One: A Local Politics of Survival

1. Social Struggle at "la fin de siècle"

Night of Fire

On to Crisis

Days of Protest

The Impact of the Crisis on Everyday Life

Neo-Liberal Globalization and Social Conflict


2. Symbols of Struggle: Red Flags, Lace Coiffes, and Social Class

Strikes and Demonstrations

Putting Food on the Table

Symbols of the Strikes and Demonstrations

Lace Coiffes and Industrial Work


Part Two: The Material Conditions of the Everyday

3. Episode, Not Epoch: Building Capitalism in the Hinterland

From Peasant to Worker

The Rise of the Trawl Fishery

Social Relations of Production


4. Working at Sea

A Day at Sea

Skippers, Crews, and the Family at Sea

Work First! Eat Later: Social Class at Sea

Social Class and the Artisanal Fishing Experience

The Development of the Bigouden Fishing Fleet

Boats and their General Characteristics


5. Working Ashore

Fishermen and Women in Fishing Communities: A Global Overview

Women's Work and Fishing in the Bigoudennie

Socio-economic Differences and Women's Work


6. The Difference a Family Makes

Luc and Martine Kernevad

Gilbert and Catherine Bazhad

Families and the Maintenance of Property


The Argument

The Future of the Bigouden Fishery




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