Red Flags and Lace Coiffes: Identity and Survival in a Breton Village

Red Flags and Lace Coiffes: Identity and Survival in a Breton Village

Weight 0.00 lbs
By Charles R. Menzies
Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2011
World Rights
160 Pages
ISBN 9781442605121
Published Aug 2011
Online discount: 15%
 $24.95    $21.21
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442605145
Published Aug 2011
Full purchase $19.95
Teaching Materials

This book explores the question of why fishing communities continue their struggle to survive, despite often calamitous changes in ecology and economy. Using historical ethnography as a lens through which to understand how fishers of the Bigouden region of France and their families have reinvented themselves, Menzies argues that local identity plays an important role in their perseverance as global capitalist pressures continually force them to reorganize or disappear entirely.

Touching on many concepts that are fundamental to anthropology—culture, identity, kinship, work, political economy, and globalization—and filled with personal stories and warmth, this ethnography will be a welcome teaching tool for instructors and an enticing read for students.

Charles R. Menzies is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and Director of the Ethnographic Film Unit. He is director of an accompanying film about the Breton fishery, Face a la Tempete—Weather the Storm (Bullfrog Films, 2008) and editor of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Natural Resource Management (University of Nebraska Press, 2006).
List of Figures and Tables



Situating the Field
Where is the Bigoudennie?

Part One: A Local Politics of Survival

1. Social Struggle at "la fin de siècle"

Night of Fire
On to Crisis
Days of Protest
The Impact of the Crisis on Everyday Life
Neo-Liberal Globalization and Social Conflict

2. Symbols of Struggle: Red Flags, Lace Coiffes, and Social Class

Strikes and Demonstrations
Putting Food on the Table
Symbols of the Strikes and Demonstrations
Lace Coiffes and Industrial Work

Part Two: The Material Conditions of the Everyday

3. Episode, Not Epoch: Building Capitalism in the Hinterland

From Peasant to Worker
The Rise of the Trawl Fishery
Social Relations of Production

4. Working at Sea

A Day at Sea
Skippers, Crews, and the Family at Sea
Work First! Eat Later: Social Class at Sea
Social Class and the Artisanal Fishing Experience
The Development of the Bigouden Fishing Fleet
Boats and their General Characteristics

5. Working Ashore

Fishermen and Women in Fishing Communities: A Global Overview
Women's Work and Fishing in the Bigoudennie
Socio-economic Differences and Women's Work

6. The Difference a Family Makes

Luc and Martine Kernevad
Gilbert and Catherine Bazhad
Families and the Maintenance of Property


The Argument
The Future of the Bigouden Fishery



Menzies has given us a fine read—an engaging and beautifully written portrait of daily life in a Breton village and the historical struggles of fishers to maintain their livelihoods. This is a book with a heart, but it also includes a solid analysis of the global forces with which artisanal ways of life continually do battle.

Karen Brodkin, University of California, Los Angeles

Menzies’s ethnography will be extremely effective for teaching undergraduate students. It delivers sophisticated lessons in political economy analysis through a lively and accessible discussion of the historical and contemporary Bigouden fishery.

Sharon Roseman, Memorial University

Red Flags and Lace Coiffes delivers the goods when it comes to providing an in-depth account of the advent of the artisanal fishery from the perspective of production. It employs a variety of data sources to inquire into the roles of social class, gender, and kinship in sustaining the fishery. In addition, the author's work experience as a fisher allows him to succinctly identify key aspects of Bigouden marine ecology and the ever improving industrial foraging technologies that make fishing possible and economically viable in the region.


To share strategies, resources, and innovations in both teaching and publishing in the discipline of anthropology, visit the Teaching Culture blog at You can also follow us on Twitter @TeachingCulture.