Precariousness and prosperity among Javanese fish traders

Katharina Schneider


Fish traders in a port on the north coast of Central Java say that they work as hard as they do so that their children may enjoy greater material security and tranquility than they themselves have ever experienced. Particular visions of prosperity are often formulated in explicit contrast to traders’ own experiences of precariousness, which they hope their children will be spared. Anthropological arguments about precariousness, as well as about kinship and rituals of regeneration in Java, are useful for highlighting both the practical difficulties that traders encounter in their struggle for prosperity and the symbolic tensions that give these struggles their dramatic depth. With reference to two particular traders, the paper examines how these struggles for prosperity unfold in particular domestic and occupational situations.


Fisheries, trading, precariousness, Java, kinship

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/701027