Both visible and invisible: Women, risk-taking and the expansion of fisheries technologies in South India

Nitya Rao, Natalie Djohari

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Technological innovations in fisheries have generally been seen to exclude women, exacerbating both their economic marginalization and lack of political voice. Such a view however ignores the complexities underpinning the interface between technologies and social relationships, in particular, those of gender. In this article, we explore the impact of ring seine expansion in Cuddalore, a costal district of Tamil Nadu on the east coast of southern India, through the experiences of women fish auctioneers. We argue that women’s contributions to the fisheries sector as auctioneers serves to both sustain and finance the expansion of the ring seine technology and does not just play a supportive, buffering role for household survival. The profitability of auctioneer work has transformed these women into the primary household providers, responsible for securing the intergenerational wellbeing of their extended families. Yet, women are not a homogenous group, hence exploring why some women are able to access these opportunities successfully, negotiating both their entry into the market and financing of their roles, while others are excluded, illuminates how women navigate gendered constraints in relation to technological changes in the sector. We conclude by reflecting on the impact of the recent ring seine ban on the perceived wellbeing and growing indebtedness of these women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-49
Number of pages21
JournalGender, Technology and Development
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • fisheries
  • women
  • wellbeing
  • ring seine
  • Fisheries
  • indebtedness

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