A rich, long-term ethnography of women seafood traders in Mexico.
The "shrimp ladies," locally known as changueras in southern Sinaloa, Mexico, sell seafood in open-air markets, forming an extralegal but key part of the economy built around this "pink gold.” Over time, they struggled to evolve from marginalized peddlers to local icons depicted in popular culture, even as they continue to work at an open-air street market.
Pink Gold documents the shrimp traders' resilience and resourcefulness, from their early conflicts with the city, state, and federal authorities and forming a union, to carving out a physical space for a seafood market, and even engaging in conflicts with the Mexican military. Drawing from her two decades of fieldwork, María L. Cruz-Torres explores the inspiring narrative of this overlooked group of women involving grassroots politics, trans-border and familial networking, debt and informal economic practices, personal sacrifices, and simple courage. She argues that, amid intense economic competition, their success relies on group solidarity that creates interlocking networks of mutual trust, or confianza, that in turn enable them to cross social and political boundaries that would typically be closed to them. Ultimately, Pink Gold offers fresh insights into issues of gender and labor, urban public space, the street economy, commodities, and globalization.
Introduction: Amber Sunsets and Pink Gold
Chapter 1. Contested Grounds: Women Shrimp Traders and Street Economies
Chapter 2. On Becoming Changueras: Gendered Livelihoods and Contested Identities
Chapter 3. The Street of the Women Shrimp Traders: Learning the Tricks of the Trade in Space and Place
Chapter 4. Here We Are Like a Family: The Complexity of Social Relations
Chapter 5. The Culture and Economy of Pink Gold: The Meanings, Processes, and Values of Shrimp
Chapter 6. Sometimes We Work Just to Pay Our Debts: Informal Credit and Savings Systems
Chapter 7. From Outcasts to Icons: Women Shrimp Traders and Expressive Culture
Conclusion: Feminist Political Ecology, Ethnography, and Uncovering Lived Realities
María L. Cruz-Torres is an anthropologist and associate professor at Arizona State University's School of Transborder Studies. She is a coeditor of Gender and Sustainability: Lessons from Asia and Latin America and the author of Lives of Dust and Water: An Anthropology of Change and Resistance in Northwestern Mexico.