Buoyancy on the Bayou: Shrimpers Face the Rising Tide of Globalization

Buoyancy on the Bayou: Shrimpers Face the Rising Tide of Globalization

by Jill Ann. Harrison


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Over the past several decades, shrimp has transformed from a luxury food to a kitchen staple. While shrimp-loving consumers have benefited from the lower cost of shrimp, domestic shrimp fishers have suffered, particularly in Louisiana. Most of the shrimp that we eat today is imported from shrimp farms in China, Vietnam, and Thailand. The flood of imported shrimp has sent dockside prices plummeting, and rising fuel costs have destroyed the profit margin for shrimp fishing as a domestic industry.

In Buoyancy on the Bayou, Jill Ann Harrison portrays the struggles that Louisiana shrimp fishers endure to remain afloat in an industry beset by globalization. Her in-depth interviews with more than fifty individuals working in or associated with shrimp fishing in a small town in Louisiana offer a portrait of shrimp fishers' lives just before the BP oil spill in 2010, which helps us better understand what has happened since the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Harrison shows that shrimp fishers go through a careful calculation of noneconomic costs and benefits as they grapple to figure out what their next move will be. Many willingly forgo opportunities in other industries to fulfill what they perceive as their cultural calling. Others reluctantly leave fishing behind for more lucrative work, but they mourn the loss of a livelihood upon which community and family structures are built. In this gripping account of the struggle to survive amid the waves of globalization, Harrison focuses her analysis at the intersection of livelihood, family, and community and casts a bright light upon the cultural importance of the work that we do.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801478338
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 12/15/2012
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jill Ann Harrison is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon.

Table of Contents

Prologue1. Setting Sail: What We Can Learn from Louisiana Shrimp Fishers2. Identity: The Struggle to Stay Afloat3. Loss: Jumping Ship for Higher Ground4. Innovation: Changing Course on Choppy Waters5. Docked: The Uncertain Futures of Shrimp Fishers in the Post-BP Oil Spill EraMethodological AppendixNotes

What People are Saying About This

Vicki Smith

"There are many chapters in the story of deindustrialization, globalization, and the decline of different industries in the U.S. over the last several decades. Buoyancy on the Bayou brings a new, vivid chapter to the table. Jill Harrison expertly analyzes how global forces have transformed the commercial shrimp industry, placing it in a long line of cases of industrial restructuring since the 1970s. Globalization not only changed the market for shrimp and the labor process of independent shrimp fishing; it jeopardized the fabric of the community, family relations, and occupational identities. Harrison demonstrates there is no simple plot line: globalization has produced unexpected, diverse reactions from the people who struggle with it in everyday life. The stories of the shrimp fishers of Bayou Crevette, Louisiana, are moving and told with great compassion. Buoyancy on the Bayou should be read by everyone who is concerned with globalization and its implications for our lived experiences."

Carl L. Bankston III

"Buoyancy on the Bayou is an interesting look at the reasons why, given the pressure on the Gulf Coast shrimping industry, shrimpers make difficult decisions about whether to stay and how to adapt to the changing economic environment. Jill Ann Harrison provides a wealth of ethnographic information and gives the reader valuable insights into the lives of shrimpers."

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