On a trip to Iceland, anthropology professor Margaret Willson discovered a plaque marking the winter fishing hut of Thurídur Einarsdóttir, one of Iceland's greatest fishing captains, and stating …
On a trip to Iceland, anthropology professor Margaret Willson discovered a plaque marking the winter fishing hut of Thurídur Einarsdóttir, one of Iceland's greatest fishing captains, and stating that she lived from 1777 to 1863.
"Wait," anthropologist and former seawoman Margaret Willson said. "She?"
Thus began the quest that became “Seawomen of Iceland: Survival on the Edge,” Willson’s newly released book about her search to learn more. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13, Willson reads from the book and discusses her adventures researching it at Writers’ Workshoppe and Imprint Books, located at 820 Water St. in Port Townsend. Admission is free.
“Seawomen” offers a glimpse into the lives of vibrant women who have braved the sea for centuries. Their accounts include the excitement, accidents, trials and tribulations of fishing in Iceland from the historic times of small open rowboats to today's high-tech fisheries. Based on extensive historical and field research, “Seawomen of Iceland” allows the seawomen's voices to speak directly with strength, intelligence and, above all, knowledge of how to survive.
According to Kristín Loftsdóttir of the University of Iceland, “Willson insightfully uses Iceland to reflect larger global social and economic transformations, showing with passion and respect how the story of Iceland's seawomen is interwoven with the fabric of the nation's history. Beautifully written and empirically rich, this ethnography sheds light on how processes of modernization and neo-liberalization resulted in women's systematic exclusion from production and power. Ultimately, however, ‘Seawomen of Iceland’ reveals not only struggles of poverty and inequality, but also a newly told story of empowerment.”
Willson is an affiliate associate professor of anthropology and Canadian studies at the University of Washington. Her previous books include “Dance Lest We All Fall Down: Breaking Cycles of Poverty in Brazil and Beyond.”