A book-essay and reflections on Margaret Willson’s book: Seawomen of Iceland: Survival on the Edge

Abstract

This essay gives a summary and my reflections about Margaret Willson’s book, focusing on women, women’s conditions, and gender relations in the Icelandic fisheries and other sea-related industries. The author’s background as an American anthropologist, a hobby-diver, and a “traveller” colors the form and content of the texts and narratives. The book covers women, and to some degree also men’s lives during several centuries, from the 1700s until today. We learn about household and community life and women’s lives at sea, as well as the national and political conditions of Iceland that was under the rule of Denmark until 1944. These days, the quota regime is important for the fishing practices. One of the main points of the essay is that Willson’s book gives a unique and valuable empirical contribution of women to the Icelandic fisheries that play an important role for Iceland as a nation. Another point of the essay is that books like Willson’s book can inspire others to write a book from their own countries. A third point is that more knowledge about women fishers and other seawomen may be an important step to improve their conditions.

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References

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Acknowledgements

Warm thanks are given to Randi Kaarhus, one of the editors of Norsk antropologisk tidsskrift (NAT), who first invited me to review Willson’s book, and to Universitetsforlaget, which publishes NAT, for their permission to publish this review essay. I also thank Magnfríður Júlíusdóttir, Derek Johnson and Emmanuelle Quillerou and the reviewers of the journal Marine Studies (MAST) for their good advice on editing the English version for a wider readership. Warm thanks are due to Catriona Turner for translating the text from Norwegian to English.

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Correspondence to Siri Gerrard.

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This paper belongs to Topical Collection: (En)Gendering Change in Small-scale Fisheries and Fishing Communities in a Globalized World

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Gerrard, S. A book-essay and reflections on Margaret Willson’s book: Seawomen of Iceland: Survival on the Edge. Maritime Studies 17, 233–238 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40152-018-0103-y

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Keywords

  • Women fishers and other seawomen
  • Gender relations
  • Gender perspectives
  • Work
  • Iceland