Sharon Fuller

Indigenous Fishing Practices of Gullah Geechee Women

My research will examine traditional fishing practices of Gullah Geechee women of South Carolina’s Sea Islands. Gullah Geechee are descendents of enslaved West Africans who have preserved the cultural traditions of their ancestors. The ecological similarities of West Africa’s Sierra Leone coastal region facilitated the juxtaposition of African fishing traditions upon South Carolina’s established cultural practices. As a result, the indigenous knowledges of Africans of the Diaspora and Native Americans co-produced traditional fishing practices still evident today in the Sea Islands. My hypothesis is that resource management strategies informed by indigenous knowledge promotes ecological sustainable practices. Conventional resource management strategies however, typically conflate gendered perspectives into homogeneous frameworks in which women’s critical engagement in natural resource management is obscured. The purpose of this study is to investigate gendered approaches to natural resources management in South Carolina’s Sea Islands. In addition to examining fishing traditions produced by these cultural intersections, I will explore the notion of a symbiotic relationship between Gullah Geechee fisherwomen and ecological systems. Employing ethnographic methodologies I will attempt to assess significant local preoccupations and concerns and map critical relations orchestrating and structuring local practices and processes.