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Higglers in Kingston
Women's Informal Work in Jamaica

Author(s): Winnifred Brown-Glaude

Making a living in the Caribbean requires resourcefulness and even a willingness to circumvent the law. Women of color in Jamaica encounter bureaucratic mazes, neighborhood territoriality, and ingrained racial and cultural prejudices. For them, it requires nothing less than a herculean effort to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

In Higglers in Kingston, Winnifred Brown-Glaude puts the reader on the ground in frenetic urban Kingston, the capital and largest city in Jamaica. She explores the lives of informal market laborers, called "higglers," across the city as they navigate a corrupt and inaccessible "official" Jamaican economy. But rather than focus merely on the present-day situation, she contextualizes how Jamaica arrived at this point, delving deep into the island's history as a former colony, a home to slaves and masters alike, and an eventual nation of competing and conflicted racial sectors.

Higglers in Kingston weaves together contemporary ethnography, economic history, and sociology of race to address a broad audience of readers on a crucial economic and cultural center.

Biography of Author(s)

Winnifred Brown-Glaude is an associate professor in the departments of African American studies and sociology & anthropology at the College of New Jersey.


  • "Brown-Glaude's work on the informal economy combines with a deep ethnography of working women in Jamaican culture. We see and feel these market women's presence--their race and gender consciousness, their navigation within both the local and the global marketplace, their sexuality, their laboring selves, their often forceful agency, their very bodies. Few other works are so successful at 'grounding' intersectionality. Higglers in Kingston is highly recommended for courses in gender studies, race and ethnicity, or global studies!"
    --Howard Winant, University of California–Santa Barbara
  • "Brown-Glaude's well-written, jargon-free study offers a refreshing, long-overdue discussion of the ethnographer's embodied presence--her own race, class, and gender, in this case--on the research process and the information gathered. Highly recommended."