Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay

My name is Lindsey Carver, and I am a rising senior at the College of William & Mary.  This summer I will be conducting research to support the writing of my undergraduate honors thesis in Anthropology.  I am focusing on the community of Guinea in Gloucester, Virginia.  Watermen from Guinea have fished the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, a major source of oysters and blue crabs, for centuries.  However, the bay has seen a decline in oysters and crabs in recent decades.  Over-harvesting in the past, decline in water quality, and the spread of oyster diseases has contributed to this decrease.  Maryland and Virginia have instituted regulations to protect the populations of oysters and blue crabs, affecting the fishermen’s ability to make a livelihood on the water as they did in the past.

This summer, I hope to build on the work of anthropologists who have used cognitive anthropology to study the intersection of environmental beliefs of Chesapeake Bay fishing communities and the intentions of environmental regulatory agencies.  The study of this dialogue will be expanded to include the issue of education in Guinea, Virginia, particularly representations of the Guinea community in the local education system.  I am also very interested in how the members of the community pass along community knowledge.  I hope to conduct working life histories of the Guinea community, and then share this information in venues such as public libraries in Gloucester to increase awareness of these issues.  I also plan on hosting some sort of Guinea heritage day in the local school system.