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Enskilment at Sea

Gísli Pálsson
Man
New Series, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 901-927
DOI: 10.2307/3033974
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033974
Page Count: 27
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Enskilment at Sea
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Abstract

By focusing on Icelandic fishing, this article suggests that personal enskilment, in both fishing and doing ethnography, means not mechanistically to internalize a stock of knowledge but to be actively engaged with an environment. Such a perspective-informed by theories of practice-resonates with certain aspects of Icelandic discourse; when discussing enskilment, Icelanders sometimes refer to learning about fishing as the recovery from seasickness, `getting one's sea legs' (að sjóast). Practice theory, I suggest, has important implications for studies of economic production and differential success, in particular for discussions of the `skipper effect'. Skills are bodily dispositions with differential distributions, but to isolate their acquisition and application from everything beyond the boundaries of the soma would be to subscribe to a reductionist theory of both learning and sociality. The alternative view of practice theory emphasizes the importance of attending to whole persons, master-apprentice relations, and the wider community to which they belong-decentring the analysis of anskilment and craftsmanship.

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