For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Unruly Women and Invisible Workers: The Shrimp Traders of Mazatlán, Mexico"

by Cruz-Torres, María L (2012)


During the 1980s, a group of women from rural communities in the Mexican state of Sinaloa organized a grassroots social movement in order to gain legal access to the sale of shrimp. The movement reached its peak in 1984, with the formation of a shrimp traders union and the establishment of a shrimp marketplace in the tourist city of Mazatlán. Despite the long trajectory of the movement and the success of the shrimp market, these women and their work have been completely ignored by government agencies in charge of the development and management of the fishing industry. For the most part, one gets to read about the shrimp traders only in tourist-oriented brochures depicting them as a “local attraction,” something to be seen while one is touring the city on a private charter bus en route to the Archaeological Museum or to the upscale jewelry shops in the Golden Zone. In this article, I examine how women used their gender and their identity as rural workers to defy the state and its policies, overcome poverty, and take control of the local marketing of shrimp. Another objective of this article is to show why and how women engaged in collective action so they could be legitimized as workers and how gender shaped their individual experiences.


Womens Work, Female Labour, Gender, Gendered Labour, Mexico, Poverty


Women and Work, Non-Western Societies

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