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Coastal Sierra Leone
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Book description

Against the backdrop of a threadbare post-war state and a global marine ecology in treacherous decline, Jennifer Diggins offers a dynamic account of post-war Sierra Leone, through the examination of a precarious frontier economy and those who depend on it. The book traces how understandings of intimacy, interdependence, and exploitation have been shaped through a history of indentured labour, violence, and gendered migration; and how these relationships are being renegotiated once more in a context of deepening economic uncertainty. At its core, this is about the material substance of human relationships. One can go a long way towards mapping the town's shifting networks of friendship, love, and obligation simply by watching the vast daily traffic in gifts of fish exchanging hands on the wharf. However, these mundane social and economic strategies are often inflected through a cultural dynamic of 'secrecy', and a shared sense of the unseen forces understood to inhabit the material world.


'Jennifer Diggins’s Coastal Sierra Leone is a brilliant, compelling, ethnographically rich account of the intersection of morality and economy in a busy fishing community. Beautifully written, the book offers riveting stories of everyday struggles to survive in a place of ecological depletion, state neglect, and uncertain economic and social change. Yet as much as Diggins’s account evokes empathy for her interlocutors, Coastal Sierra Leone is equally noteworthy for the author’s unflinching attention to the underbelly of social life in this maritime community. At once sensitive to people’s hardships and attuned to the moral hazards of making a living and a life in such precarious circumstances, Diggins neither romanticizes nor pathologizes her subjects. I strongly recommend reading it all. I couldn’t put it down.'

Daniel Jordan Smith Source: American Ethnologist

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