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Higglers in Kingston

Women's Informal Work in Jamaica

Winnifred Brown-Glaude

Publication Year: 2011

Making a living in the Caribbean requires resourcefulness and even a willingness to circumvent the law. Women of color in Jamaica encounter bureaucratic mazes, neighborhood territoriality, and ingrained racial and cultural prejudices. For them, it requires nothing less than a herculean effort to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press


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Title Page

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Table of Contents

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

From the time I was a little girl growing up in Jamaica, higglers have had a special place in my heart. On Christmas mornings, I always looked forward to going to the Christmas market, where the streets of downtown Kingston would be lined with higglers selling a wide variety of toys. ...

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Introduction: Assessing the "Whole of Informality"

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pp. 1-20

In a small rural village in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Miss Virginette, an Afro-Jamaican market woman, awakens before dawn.1 It is Saturday morning, market day. She gets dressed, takes a moment to drink some tea, then begins to gather her baskets for the long trip ahead of her. ...

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1. Intersectionality and the Politics of Embodiment

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pp. 21-38

In recent years, policymakers in the international development field have viewed female microenterprises as solutions to sustainable development as the economies of developing nations continue to contract under pressures of keeping pace with an evolving global economy.1 ...

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2. Higglering: A Woman's Domain?

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pp. 39-64

A first step toward complicating the analytical category “women’s in-formal work” involves a close examination of higglering and its con-ceptualization as a woman’s domain by scholars over the years because of the predominance of women engaged in this informal work—a pattern that can be traced back to West Africa, ...

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3. "Bait of Satan"?: Representations of Sunday/Negro Markets and Higglering from Slavery to Independence

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pp. 65-90

One explanation for the common understanding of higglering as a low-status occupation in the Jamaican economy and larger society is the predominance of women engaged in it, and its discursive construction as “women’s work” (Bolles 1986).1 Another is the hostility fueled by class tensions between higglers ...

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4. "Natural Rebels" or Just Plain Nuisances?: Representations of Higglers from Slavery to Independence

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pp. 91-118

Caribbean historian Hilary Beckles succinctly captures the symbolic significance of the business of higglering/huckstering as it flourished throughout the slave era (Beckles 2000c, 733). This semi-informal/ informal economic activity afforded slaves the opportunity to produce and sell their own foods ...

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5. Higgler, ICI, Businesswoman: What's in a Name?

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pp. 119-140

In an editorial titled “On Higglers” in the Jamaica Gleaner of August 10, 1986, Morris Cargill, a white Jamaican journalist, ponders a ques-tion about the bodies of higglers: “Considering that so many Jamaican girls are slim and pretty one is bound to wonder whether higglers are the result of selective breeding. ...

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6. Dirty and Dis/eased: Bodies, Public Space, and Afro-Jamaican Higglers

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pp. 141-164

Most cities in developing and developed countries contain dual and inter related economies: formal and informal.1 Socially formed meanings of markets and market activities in each economy vary, often privileging formal markets as more legitimate than informal markets. ...

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Conclusion: Understanding the Nuances of Informality

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pp. 165-174

Most scholars understand that to gain a better grasp of the nuances of informality we must not focus on the economic practices or material conditions of individual actors while ignoring structural and cultural factors that help shape those conditions.1 Max Weber clarifies this point in his description of the multidimensionality of power. ...

Appendix: List of Higglers Interviewed

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pp. 175-176


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pp. 177-190


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pp. 191-210


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pp. 211-225

E-ISBN-13: 9780826517678
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826517654

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 733800355
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Higglers in Kingston

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Small business -- Jamaica -- Kingston.
  • Social status -- Jamaica -- Kingston.
  • Women merchants -- Jamaica -- Kingston.
  • Street vendors -- Jamaica -- Kingston.
  • Informal sector (Economics) -- Jamaica -- Kingston.
  • Women's studies -- Jamaica -- Kingston.
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