Guatemalan Market from Above

Guatemalan Market from Above348
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2 Essays

  1. Linda Seligmann | George Mason University says:

    Markets are crossroads, where strangers and friends connect, build ties, and find means of survival through the exchange of commodities and conviviality. A place where the chaos of movement and the seeming clutter of space give the impression of constant agitation. Yet all too frequently, business is slow and desperation settles in as vendors reflect on how they will feed their children or send them to school. Markets remind us that we are connected to the earth: pungent onions, fragrant spices, and ripe fruit are displayed carefully and beautifully to entice buyers. Market models and models of morality interpenetrate in a symphony of dissonance on the sidewalks of Greenwich village, the suqs of the Middle East, the mercados of Central and South America, the Tsukijii fish market of Japan, and the free markets of China. The sprawl of makeshift bricolage fascinates the tourist, irritates the keepers of order and modernity, and is irrepressible. Everything new and old is used in the market, ingenuity in the service of making ends meet. What is most remarkable about open air markets is that despite how mesmerizing and magical they seem to be in their disorderly variety, they tell more about the state and pulse of the world than newspapers, but only if one knows how to read them. They tell us who suffers and why. They speak to us of invasion and conquest, of debt and restitution, of dreams and death. As dusk arrives, coins are counted, a good sale remembered, and a little extra handed to a friend who has had a bad day. Exhaustion accompanies the symphony of rickshaws, tricycles, buses, trucks, rounded shoulders, hunched backs, and shuffling feet that head home. Some remain, sleeping in their stalls. For the time being, that may be all that exists of home.

  2. Ania Sher | Stony Brook University says:

    Much is written about the social construction of markets and their embeddedness in the local social structures of relations. There are several different Guatemalan markets depicted in which Guatemalan women (and their children) sell the products of their own labor. Because these are obviously local markets, they reveal the social structure of the local community in which women complete the entire circle of production and sale of small-scale agricultural products and tourist goods. These are women’s markets. Men do not participate in these tasks. It would be interesting to know if these markets are a recent phenomenon connected to men earning money away from home communities, or women were always solely responsible for tending small fields, domestic birds and small animals.