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Life beyond Livelihoods: Samoan Women's Fishing

Authors: Barbara Quimby*, San Diego State University
Topics: Gender, Coastal and Marine, Pacific Islands
Keywords: small-scale fisheries, Pacific, comanagement, political ecology, food systems
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Across the Pacific, women’s participation in coastal fisheries has become a central issue for researchers and practitioners (Ram-Bidesi, 2015; Rohe et al, 2018; Vunisea, 2005); yet it is often approached with an economic focus on livelihoods and resources, eclipsing less tangible social aspects of women’s engagement with the living reefs, mangroves, and lagoons. In Samoa, women make substantial contributions to subsistence and seafood market products, yet few consider fishing or gleaning to be their primary livelihood (Schoeffel, 1985; Tiitii et al., 2014). While these activities have material value, their physical presence and interactions with gendered marine places also present important opportunities for knowledge-sharing, community building, and the negotiation of gender and power. Drawing on archival research and fieldwork on the island of Upolu, Samoa, this paper draws on feminist theory of space and political ecology to discuss how we might recognize and reposition the perceived value of the situated practice of women’s fishing for more equitable and relevant governance.

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