Pink Gold: Women, Shrimp, and Work in Mexico (Paperback)
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.
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.