Journal article / Community, Labour, and Technological Change in Artisanal Fisheries

Sundar, Aparna. “Skills for Work and the Work of Skills: Community, Labour and Technological Change in India’s Artisanal Fisheries.” Journal of South Asian Development 13, no. 3 (December 2018): 272–92.

Abstract (edited): This article traces the transformation of practices of skill in the context of technological change in the artisanal fisheries of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, to explore a set of linked questions about skills and work:

  • What can we learn from traditional modes of skills transmission?
  • As technology makes redundant many of the traditional skills, are we seeing a ‘degradation’ of work?

A focus on fishing, a traditionally caste-bound occupation, also opens up questions regarding the work that skills do within a political economy, both in reproducing a given social order, and in enabling change.

In tracing processes of labour recruitment in the mechanized fisheries, the article offers a further reflection, about the extent to which skills matter in securing employment, given the continued importance of networks of caste, kinship, and village-based community.

Editor’s Note: This article has a substantive section on mechanised trawling in Munambam harbour in Ernakulam District, which hosts fishermen from Kanyakumari, and hence is of interest to those studying/understanding Kerala.

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Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup.