IN ÁLVARO’S HOUSE: FISHER LEADERS, FAMILY LIFE AND THE ETHNOGRAPHER AT MEXICO’S OIL FRONTIER
Keywords:Ambiguity, Ethnography, Fishers, Gender, Oil, Politics, Reflexivity
AbstractIn this essay, I examine the practice of ethnographic knowledge-production through my fieldwork encounter with Álvaro, a political leader of fishers in Mexico’s oil-producing state, Tabasco. Exercising ethnographic reflexivity, I analyze how my relations with Álvaro and his family in a context of conflict between fishers and the oil industry shaped my analytical lens on the politics of resource access. The essay focuses on ambiguity as an overriding characteristic of the research encounter, and suggests that paralleling ambiguities in my analysing of Álvaro during fieldwork and in my own, gendered and racialized positionality within the family were formative for my perspective on fisher – oil industry politics. Furthermore, the analysis shows how my knowledge about the ‘field’ was made in the intersection of my and the family’s mutual efforts to draw each other into our categories of thinking, Álvaro’s reflection about his role in politics, and the wider historical and political economic context shaping the relations between the fishers and the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico. This analysis draws attention to the importance of ethnography in showing the complexity and situatedness of politics of resource access.
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Copyright (c) 2016 Liina-Maija Quist
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