Jan 22

Fishing Folk, a Ceviche Craze and the Predicament of Good Intentions

An anthropology job candidate talk

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
5:00 – 6:00 pm / Leighton 304

Fishing Folk, a Ceviche Craze and the Predicament of Good Intentions: How Sustainable Development Threatens Coastal Livelihoods in the Seascape of Northern Peru

Broadly speaking sustainable development projects promise long-term environmental, social, and economic benefits to communities, but unfortunately these initiatives often fail to work. Nevertheless, many organizations continue to use sustainable development as a guiding principle. Such is the case in Peru were an emerging food and environmental movement is using sustainable development principles as a way to encourage the development of rural Peruvians, maintain resource management traditions, conserve biodiversity, and foster national pride. This talk focuses on the impacts of these initiatives on the livelihoods of one specific group of artisanal fishing communities in the northern department of Piura. These communities are the targets of well-intended projects that regrettably are approaching implementation in a manner that grossly overlooks the social complexity of these fishing villages. I will present findings from my on-going research program to show a series of instances where fishing communities are represented inaccurately in sustainable development initiatives and in the scholarly literature. For instance, my ethnographic observations have reveled that artisanal fishing families are not driven by economic or environmental considerations alone, as assumed by projects and academics, but by notions of identity and community that expand beyond individual villages. The importance of identity is profound enough to influence the effectiveness of projects since families conceive of desirable livelihoods differently than outsiders and articulate their future in unexpected ways. I conclude with a series of recommendations as to how these observations and sound social analysis, in particular ethnographic fieldwork, can be incorporated into the design and implementation of effective and just sustainable development projects.


Sponsored by Sociology and Anthropology. Contact: Liz Musicant