This study examines how artisanal fishers of the bay of Chorrillos, Peru, use their place and workplace power and pride as instruments to defend their access to fishing resources and their way of life. On- and offshore, fishers advocate against destructive fishing practiced by industrial and boliches (semi-industrial trawlers) fleets, while also resisting efforts by urban developers to displace and relocate their residential community, which is situated in a highly touristic area of the city. Artisanal fishers’ actions of resistance to overcome structural poverty and exclusion are ongoing on a daily basis. Fishers demonstrate their capacity as empowered actors by exerting physical and symbolic control over their dock while demonstrating their knowledge and skills as stewards of the coastal and urban ecosystem. Fishers’ territories are therefore democratic and diverse spaces of cultural production, transmission and transformation from which diverse actors create and define their roles in the larger society. They engage in new forms of activism, actionism and citizenship releasing processes from below which are based on community more than ideology. Official political and economic structures are challenged everyday by new waves of governance, popular movements and politics of contention that strive for the protection of the commons and the possibility of better futures. They do not seek power beyond control of their places and spaces. Such oppositional and propositional processes operate at the ground-level, and need to be studied using interdisciplinary approaches and ethnographically-grounded methodologies.
Hector Bombiella is an interdisciplinary ethnographer and a lawyer from Colombia. Having previously taught Spanish, he is currently teaching sociocultural anthropology at Iowa State University. Hector complemented his former academic and professional background in law and politics with further studies in social sciences focusing on cultural anthropology and rural sociology. He has earned a Ph.D. in Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.
Hector’s research focuses on the interactions between globalization, development and poverty. It further looks at how sustainable agriculture/fishing initiatives, place-based community knowledge and rural/urban food systems can provide alternative and creative responses to contemporary social issues. He has conducted extensive fieldwork with social groups in condition of poverty and disadvantage, grassroots organizations and the public and private-sector in the United States, Colombia and Peru.