Guatemalan Poultry Market

Guatemalan Poultry Market480
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One Essay Response

  1. Amihan says:

    I see a young woman at a market selling chicken. The chicken around her are either entrapped in a basket or are free to roam about. Aside from poultry, she also sells a vegetable, perhaps cabbage or cauliflower, heaped in a short pile behind her. There is another woman in this photograph but their backs are towards each other and they do not interact. This young woman’s experience of work is very different from that of the young woman selling vegetables at the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco, CA. Like the worker at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, this young woman is caught in a gaze and is contemplative, but her thoughts have taken her to someplace more somber. Her expression is that of someone who is resigned to her situation. Unlike the worker in my photograph, this young woman is neither content nor serene. She was brought to this space without choice. She starts and ends her day within the boundaries of the baskets and the vegetables that surround her. This is her work and more profoundly her fate.

    As with my photograph, there are many things that remain unseen in this image. I can infer the geographic and socioeconomic contexts that led this young woman here, but we do not see it directly. How far did she have to travel and how early did she have to start her day to get here? As a young girl, did she have to forego an education, so she can work at the market to provide income for her family? What choices did she have? According to the Global Education Fund, more than half of the population in Guatemala live below the poverty line, forcing children to drop out of school to support their families, the majority of whom are indigenous girls living in rural areas. With limited schooling and lack of access to education, rural indigenous girls remain one of the most structurally vulnerable and disadvantaged group in Guatemala, entrapped in poverty, early marriage, and frequent childbearing.

    I paired these images because the stark differences in the two young women’s experiences of life and work captured my attention. I was curious about their gazes—the differences in what they are seeing, observing, and thinking. I was curious about what they are feeling. The setting within which these two images take place could not be more disparate, just as the feelings evoked by each—peaceful and content in one and tired and resigned in the other.

    Global Education Fund. State of Education in Guatemala. Retrieved January 24, 2017 from