Who was ever ‘a fisherman’?:Revisiting Paul Thompson’s Living the Fishing

Taylor, Becky (2021) Who was ever ‘a fisherman’?:Revisiting Paul Thompson’s Living the Fishing. Twentieth Century British History. ISSN 0955-2359

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Abstract

This article revisits Paul Thompson’s major oral history project of Britain’s early twentieth-century fishing industry, situating it within the emergence of oral history as a practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and interrogating assumptions over the fixed category of ‘fisherman’ which informed the original research. Through a detailed look at interviews collected with those involved in the herring fishing of East Anglia and north-east Scotland, it finds that Thompson and his colleagues were working between social science interviewing practices and oral history as an evolving methodology, and at a time when fixed worker identities were taken as given. Revisiting the transcripts with a different set of research questions revealed how ‘fishermen’ moved in and out of fishing, with ‘farmworkers’ equally being found as regularly employed on boats. Thus the article argues that instead of fixed and life-long fisher identities, precarity, migration and seasonality were key features of many fishers’ involvement in the herring industry. Through focussing on mobility – across place and types of employment – this piece also reveals the central role of personal preference and intimate decision-making in mediating individuals’ choices to ‘follow the herring’.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2021 00:41
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2021 00:10
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/79544
DOI: 10.1093/tcbh/hwab008

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